Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness soon will offer all of its services from one location rather than three.
Leadership at the center, the primary provider of mental health and development disability services in the county, will break ground Saturday on a $7 million 17,000 square-foot facility on 3.2 acres off Medical Parkway. (See event details on Page 2.)
Winding Waters Community Health Center and Building Healthy Families will also be part of the project.
“Being spread out over so many locations, there are communication and logistics challenges,” said Chantay Jett, executive director of the center. “We’ve worked it out fairly well, but it will be seamless under one roof.”
Winding Water is also experiencing growing pains.
“We have our administrative staff in a trailer out behind the clinic,” said Nic Powers, who became CEO at Winding Waters last week.
Building Healthy Families staff will welcome families to the new space, provide resources and programming for families and be available for “warm handoffs” from practitioners as referrals are needed, according to that agency’s executive director Maria Weer.
“We are also excited to have a new location in which to provide community-based educational opportunities such as parent education classes, workshops, playgroups and more,” Weer added.
The organization will continue to operate in its current location.
Jett’s vision is to create a one-stop “shopping center” for medical and social services of all types. The plan includes drop-in child care while parents receive treatment.
The plan also includes a teaching kitchen for Wallowa Memorial Hospital’s Complete Health Improvement Program, a large multi-purpose room available to the community, a dental clinic and more.
Work has already begun to raise the funds to build.
Jett said one of the first tasks is to help the community understand the scope of the center for wellness. A consulting firm is interviewing 60 community members toward that end. The center has 14 individual programs and employs 70.
Winding Waters moved from a for-profit medical clinic to a nonprofit community health center in 2015, which has opened a number of new doors for related health services, Powers said.
Both have their eye on a $1.5 million grant from state lottery funds, which could be considered during the 2018 Oregon Legislature’s session. Other grants are in the pipeline; however, a large portion of the money will comes from Wallowa County sources.
A separate entity to operate the building has been created.
Ground preparation will begin in the next several weeks, and then the land will be allowed to “cure.”
“The water table is extremely high at the location,” Jett said.
Eventually the plan will come before Enterprise officials. Jett and her entourage were arriving to present preliminary information to the Enterprise City Council July 10.
“We were within minutes of presenting when the building was evacuated,” Jett said.
A fire damaged most of the interior of city hall.
Jett says they hope to be back on the council agenda soon.
Nic Powers takes helm as CEO of Winding Waters
Leadership of Winding Waters Medical Clinic has changed hands but has remained in the family.
Dr. Elizabeth Powers has stepped down from the CEO position to concentrate on patient care. Her husband, Nic, has moved into her spot.
Nic had most recently served as chief financial officer and chief information officer for the clinic during a time when the number employees and budget more than doubled.
The Powers family has lived in Wallowa County since 2006. Nic began working for Winding Waters part-time and became a full-time employee in 2015. He holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering and a master’s of business administration from Portland State University.
“I feel privileged to have been a part of Winding Waters successful transition to a nonprofit community health center, and I’m proud of the good work our providers and staff do every day on behalf of the citizens and visitors of Wallowa County,” Nic said.
The couple has two boys: Malakai, 8, and Atticus, 3. When not working, Nic enjoys running, cycling and water and snow skiing.