Community health center receives PacificSource grant

Congressman DeFazio secured $1.5 million for the Cottage Grove center earlier this year.

Last week, the PacificSource Foundation for Health Improvement, PacificSource, and Pacific Health Associates collectively approved a joint grant funding request totaling $275,000 to help support the opening of the much-anticipated community health center on the Cottage Grove Lane Community College (LCC) campus.

The grant funds will help support the capital costs needed for renovations and the purchase of necessary equipment for the center.

With an oral health clinic, the total estimated budget for the community health center is around $3.8 million. This April, project representatives reported that some $1.8 million was still needed before construction could begin, though it has been noted that this is a moving target with factors such as material costs in flux.

The project has slowly but gradually been gathering funds for development, but $1.5 million secured by Oregon Congressman Peter DeFazio earlier this year as part of the as part of the Fiscal Year 2022 Labor, Health and Human Services Appropriations Bill put the project solidly within reach of its goal.

The bill is currently in the Senate’s appropriations process waiting to be approved.

This and the addition of the PacificSource grant will edge the project right up to its financial finish line, if not past it.

Assistant Director of Lane County Health and Human Services Karen Gaffney had not responded to a request for confirmation of reaching the financial target by press time.

Once completed, Cottage Grove will be home to the first rural community health center in the county.

Community health centers mainly serve those who have limited access to healthcare, though all are welcome to use them. Also designated as federally qualified health centers, they can qualify for public health funding and often offer a sliding fee scale for patients.

The clinic is intended to serve the residents of Oregon’s South Lane and North Douglas counties with a current opening date set for fall 2022.

A lengthy list of programs and services are planned for the center including pediatrics, family planning, alternative medical services, integrated oral health care, behavioral health, pharmacist consultations and maternal and child health programs.

The clinic will provide local students access to primary care and dental services and will employ more than 22 individuals when fully staffed. It will also function as a health and dental care training site for South Lane School District and LCC students.

There are currently no plans to physically expand LCC to incorporate it all, however. The project instead is committing about two-thirds of the existing square footage to remodel the building into a health center and leaving the remaining to be used for classrooms and other LCC space.

The concept of a community health center in the area has been batted around for about at least a decade, though it wasn’t until recent years the project saw real movement toward a goal.

“This has been a local community goal for ten years and the PacificSource family of companies is proud to come together to help this much-needed clinic finally become a reality,” said Priscilla Gould, president of the PacificSource Foundation for Health Improvement and Pacific Health Associates. 

The center will be located in one of the most underserved areas in the state.

South Lane County ranks among the top two of Oregon’s highest need primary care services areas, as identified by the Office of Rural Health. The area is also designated as a “health professional shortage area” for primary and dental care by the Health Resources and Services Administration.

It is estimated the health center will be able to provide access to primary care services for more than 5,000 patients in the community and surrounding area with four primary care practitioners at capacity.

Community partners working collaboratively to plan and implement the project include Community Health Centers of Lane County (CHCLC), Cottage Grove Be Your Best Committee, LCC, PeaceHealth, South Lane Mental Health and the South Lane School District.

PacificSource’s companies grant funding for the clinic was provided in the following increments: PacificSource Foundation for Health Improvement $75k; PacificSource $100k; Pacific Health Associates $100k.

Pacific Health Associates (PHA) provides grants to the PacificSource Foundation and collaborates with the Foundation and PacificSource on other granting opportunities.

PHA’s mission is to improve the health and welfare of the poor and needy, lessen the burdens of government, improve patients’ experience with health care as well as the health of individuals in the community, and provide support to initiatives that better overall population health.

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