La Clinica will have presence at new county health center

Low-cost health care provider La Clinica will operate a health center inside Jackson County's new Health and Human Services building once it's finished, La Clinica and county officials announced Friday.

La Clinica received a $650,000 federal grant in November to operate the new health center inside the building being constructed at 333 W. Eighth St., said Brenda Johnson, chief executive officer at La Clinica.

"It became clear to us that we wanted a closer partnership with Jackson County Health and Human Services," Johnson said.

"I am really passionate about making sure people who need care get it, and this seemed like a really natural way to look at the existing partnership and strengthen it."

Set to open in late 2014, the two-story building rising immediately east of Medford City Hall will house public health, mental health and developmental and disability services, consolidating the county's 300 health and human services employees who are now spread across nine buildings.

La Clinica's eventual center there "will be pretty similar in terms of our service at our other primary care centers," Johnson said. "For the most part, it will be primary care."

Because the Health Center New Access Points grant requires La Clinica to begin providing service before the county building is scheduled to open, the organization will open a temporary facility near the site within the next few months, said Julie Wurth, La Clinica's communications director.

"It will have some really basic services in it, probably a nurse, nurse practitioner or a physician who will be there a couple of days a week," Wurth said. "It will be similar to how we run our health centers at schools."

Johnson said the federal grant will provide funding for its new center at the Health and Human Services building and its East Medford Dental Clinic at 1113 Progress Drive. Between the two sites, the organization expects to serve 3,500 new patients.

In November, La Clinica received $405,922 of the annually renewable grant, which was awarded by the Health Resources and Services Administration of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, according to a HRSA website.

La Clinica will receive $650,000 annually in the future, Johnson said, "as long as we continue our hard work."

Over the last several years, La Clinica has used money from the same grant to initiate and fund its Central Point Health Center, at 4940 Hamrick Road, and its Mobile Health Center, a 40-foot motor home clinic, Johnson said.

"Without it, I am not sure we could provide the level of services we do," she said.

The neighborhoods near the new Health and Human Services building site are notoriously poor.

According to the latest U.S. Census report, the new county health building will sit in an area in which the median family income is below $26,000, an amount below the federal poverty standard for a family of five.

"This is an exciting project because it will bring care right to the area where it's needed in Medford," Johnson said in a written statement.

Currently, La Clinica operates five health care centers, located in Medford, Central Point and Phoenix, and provides health care services for students at six schools in the same cities.

The organization's motor home health care unit operates at several other locations around the Rogue Valley.

La Clinica was founded in 1988 to provide health care for migrant and seasonal farm workers and their families, but later expanded its mission to the entire community, with a focus on serving low-income people.

Reach reporter Sam Wheeler at 541-776-4471 or swheeler@mailtribune.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTwriter_swhlr.


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