The following submission was prepared by representatives of Wallowa Memorial Hospital, Mountain View Medical Clinic, Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness and Winding Waters Community Health Center.
These are stormy times for health care. Costs are high, insurance is unpredictable and many things about how we provide care are changing.
Doctors, counselors and hospitals are asked to hit the “Triple Aim” –– providing top quality convenient care at the lowest possible cost.
Clinics and hospitals are caring for their patients’ immediate concerns, as well as their long-term health and wellness. They are being asked to help patients access all types of care, from traditional medical, dental and mental health care to therapies like acupuncture, massage and environmental medicine. Education about chronic conditions, healthy eating, exercise, and injury prevention is expected at every visit.
In Wallowa County, medical clinics, mental health agency and hospital have partnered to make this happen. Amazing things have been accomplished amazing.
In 2017, the National Rural Health Association named Wallowa Memorial Hospital one of the Top 20 Critical Access Hospitals in the nation. Mountain View Medical Clinic joined the Wallowa County Health Care District in 2015 and was designated a Rural Health Clinic in 2016.
Also in 2016, the Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness became a nationally-recognized Certified Community Behavioral Health Clinic. In 2013, the Oregon Primary Care Association named Winding Waters the State Leader in Health Care Transformation.
Winding Waters earned Community Health Center status in 2015 and received quality awards from the Department of Health and Human Services in both 2016 and 2017.
Regionally, the organizations have powered Wallowa County to number two of the 12 counties in the Eastern Oregon Coordinated Care Organization’s 2017 quality rankings. Efforts are under way to do even better in 2018.
To survive and thrive, the health care community has learned to lean on each other’s strengths and continue working together. Every week there are notices from across the country about hospitals closing and clinics being bought-up. There is a lot of pressure to merge and consolidate into larger health care systems.
In Wallowa County, we know that none of these big systems will care as much as we do about this place and the people who live here.
Everyone involved is working together to build what this community needs, guaranteeing that Wallowa County providers and agencies can meet that Triple Aim – the best care, at the lowest cost, when you need it.
For example, cooperative efforts have guaranteed the hospital is served by a team of excellent staff and physicians. Space has been shared in the medical office building. A yearly Health Fest event and the CHIP program have been created. Many of the same leadership and technology tools have been adopted to make care more consistent and connected.
Partnerships have reduced ER visits, saving people money and getting them into their clinics for appropriate care. A much better job of immunizing children and protecting their teeth from cavities has been accomplished. Home health services were retained in response to a risk of losing them entirely.
Through it all, the entities continue to learn from each other and take care of patients –– our families, friends and neighbors.
The next big step is to bring full-service medical, dental and mental health clinics to Enterprise and Joseph. These “one-stop shops” will make it possible to get the care you need, when you need it.
Why are new spaces so important? Mental health, dental and medical facilities in Enterprise are bursting at the seams –– we are out of space. The two clinics in Joseph are in aging buildings not up to the demands and requirements of modern health care. Current offices are limiting the care providef, and they cannot be upgraded.
In Joseph, the Wallowa County Health Care District has purchased land, and, in partnership with Winding Waters, Wallowa Memorial Hospital has designed a building to bring medical, dental and mental health providers together under one roof.
Separately in Enterprise, Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness and Winding Waters have purchased land (across from the hospital) and work has begun on a similar integrated services building that will also feature a teaching kitchen, a child care center and community meeting space. Reopening a clinic in the lower valley will come in time.
In these uncertain times, we cannot lose focus on the health of the community. The people of Wallowa County deserve the best care that can be provided.
That’s exactly why Wallowa Memorial Hospital, Mountain View Medical Clinic, Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness and Winding Waters Community Health Center are working together to maintain and build partnerships that will keep Wallowa County on the forefront of health care excellence for years to come.
Larry Davy, CEO of Wallowa Memorial Hospital
Chantay Jett, Executive Director of Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness
Nic Powers, CEO of Winding Waters Community Health Center