Every woman and every child can have a medical home

Dr. Larry Hel m
Dr. Larry Hel m

What matters most to you? When you stop to think about it for a moment, the answer is probably-your health or the health of your loved ones. Not in nearly eight decades has it been more a more critical issue to our families. But today there is hope and help for many if they will simply reach out for it.
     
   
   

    

In Jackson County there are three community health centers; one in
Ashland, one in Medford and one in White City that serve the needs of a
growing population.
    
Economic conditions find some 70,000
of Jackson County’s population, which in 2007 was estimated at 202,310,
are either uninsured or underinsured. And that all too often means
medical needs are only addressed in the emergency room, adding to the
cost of premiums for those who are insured as our hospitals do not turn
anyone away.
   
There is help for those in need of medical
attention and the community health centers noted above actively seek
those in need of medical assistance. The service provided by the health
centers is on a sliding fee scale. They know that most people want to
pay for medical help but they also know many cannot afford the current
rates. Therefore, medical care is given on a sliding scale, based on
ability to pay. What that means is that everyone can have a medical
home and what can be more comforting than to know you will be treated
with dignity and respect and that if you have a major illness they will
assist you in finding the appropriate care.
   
With that
philosophy the three clinics reach out annually for financial
assistance from those who can support their efforts.  Their most recent
effort was Nov. 5 when they held their annual luncheon. Dr. Larry Helm 
was the guest speaker.  Internationally known for his  ability to get
his point across in a humorous, well received manner, he is a
Medfordite. Nearly 400 attended the event at the Red Lion. A little
over $61,000 of the Center’s $100,000 goal was raised with pledges
continuing to arrive.
   
"The Community Health Center saw a
new patient increase of 16 percent January through  June 2008, compared
to the same period last year, " said Karen Elliot, resource development
specialist.
   
While the trend in Jackson County is for
patients to seek help through one of the community health clinics,
nationwide, those saying they put off needed care climbed from 29
percent in April 2008 to 36 percent in October, according to Kaiser
Family Foundation.
   
The first of the community centers was
established in 1972 in Ashland as the Ashland Women’s Health Clinic.
Its name did not define its service; the clinic served all family
members. In 1977, it became the Ashland Community Health Center. 
   
Another
center opened in 1983 in Medford and in 1987, Peg Crowley became CEO of
the clinics; a position she continues to hold. In 1998, in partnership
with the Upper Rogue Family Center and the Jackson County Health and
Human Services, the third clinic was established in White City to serve
the growing needs in northern Jackson County.    
Community
members such as Jackson County Commissioner C.W. Smith and Olive
Lansburgh realized the need for low cost medical care and joined in the
fund raising efforts, along with many, many others, and the current
White City Clinic on Division Road opened in February 1998.
   
One
of the original goals with the White City clinic was to reduce the
infant mortality rate in the Upper Rogue by providing care for mothers
both before and after the birth of their child. That goal has been
realized.
   
In 2005, a new goal was put forward with the Every
Child Can Have a Medical Home program. To date, more than 4,000
children have benefitted. One of obstacles many parents face is trying
to navigate through the complexities of the OHP/SCHIP enrollment and
re-enrollment forms. Staff at the health center make that very easy for
families.
   
This year a new program was introduced entitled,
Every Woman Can Have a Medical Home. That was the general theme of the
2008 luncheon and fund raiser. This program will offer eligible women
access to an annual women’s health exam and referral for a free
mammogram.
   
The White City center has become a partner with
School District 9 and the D9 Foundation. In that capacity they have
assisted with a district-wide dental program, partner through grants to
provide District 9 with a school nurse and through OHSU, student nurses
spend time assisting the school district.
   
Those wishing to
donate or make a pledge to the Community Health Center, can send
donations to Community Health Center, 19 Myrtle St., Medford, OR 97504.
For more information or give online visit www.communityhealthcenter.org
By Nancy Leonard
Of the Independent   

       

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