ENTERPRISE — Health care remains a priority, even for budgets severely impacted by COVID-19 downturns.

Thanks to Sen. Bill Hansell, R-Athena, and other legislators, the Oregon Legislature reinstated $2.5 million of capital funding allocated to the Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness and Winding Waters Community Health Care Center’s new Hearts for Health integrated health services facility now under construction in Enterprise.

“This building has been a dream of ours for a long time,” said Chantay Jett, the Wallowa Valley Center for Wellness’ executive director. “I am so grateful that our legislature could come together to come up with creative solutions to help us receive this funding.”

The 20,000-square-foot integrated health services facility under construction on Medical Parkway in Enterprise will provide primary care medical, dental, and behavioral health services. It will also provide a space for community gatherings, community meetings and classes. Completion is expected in fall of 2021.

“Teamwork initially made the day, and it saved the day,” Hansell said.

The project was originally awarded $2.5 million from Oregon Lottery bond funds. Those funds were unavailable due to low lottery revenues during the COVID-19 pandemic when the restaurants and bars that provide most of the lottery dollars were closed or operated on reduced hours.

Rather than coming from lottery bonds, funds will instead be distributed from two other state funding streams thanks to the advocacy of Hansell; Sen. Elizabeth Steiner-Hayward, D-Beaverton; and Sen. Betsy Johnson, D-Scappoose.

“I am so pleased this important project is being funded,” Hansell said. “Teamwork caused the project to be funded in the first place, and it saved it from being eliminated, when lottery revenues tanked due to the pandemic. I reached out to Sen. Steiner-Hayward, who has helped us from the beginning. The Portland-area senator said she had some ideas for funding outside of the lottery and the rest is history.”

Rep. Greg Barreto, R-Cove, was particularly appreciative to both Steiner-Hayward and Johnson.

“Rural Oregon is often overlooked,” he said. “I have a heartfelt appreciation of these funds being restored to this important integrated health services model.”

Nic Powers, of Winding Waters Community Health Clinic, the partner with the Wellness Center in the project, reinforced the high hopes for this new facility. Both Jett and Powers were appreciative of all the local support that has helped make it a reality.

“Legislators understood that this project is supported by a long list of community members and organizations,” Powers said. “They know that it will bring great value to the people of Wallowa County across a range of health care services, and through a multitude of outreach and education opportunities.”

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