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Thousand mask giveaway just one way nonprofit is responding to pandemic

Teams of nonprofit health professionals and their bright teal goody bags were a sight intentionally hard to miss for Southern Oregon grocery shoppers.

Outside Sherm’s Thunderbird in west Medford, Rogue Community Health employees Mary Yoc and Angie Juarez distributed cloth masks and hand sanitizer as part of a grant-funded giveaway involving 1,000 masks.

The bags contained triple-layer masks and bilingual instructions to adjust the masks properly.

According to Rogue Community Health spokeswoman Erin Zelinka it’s hardly the only way the nonprofit is responding and adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The nonprofit now offers “wraparound” outreach services for people quarantining after a positive test for the coronavirus, such as delivering groceries for the patient or helping the person with bills in certain circumstances to help the patient self-isolate, according to Zelinka.

Numbers of patients helped by the wraparound services were not available Saturday, but the funds come from a $36,685 Oregon Health Authority grant for community-based organizations awarded July 23, according to Zelinka and the state.

The bags also included fliers with information about applying for the Oregon Health Plan.

“A lot of people are unemployed right now, they’ve lost their employer-sponsored health care,” Zelinka said. “And so our organization has become more important than ever.”

Regardless of insurance, Zelinka said the nonprofit has five clinics that offer services ranging from medical to behavioral health on a sliding scale — and in some cases for free.

Zelinka said Rogue Community Health has seen a rise in appointments for mental and behavioral health services as patients adjust to the myriad stresses of the pandemic.

Meanwhile virtual visits have also risen. Presently, Rogue Community Health conducts 80 percent of its appointments remotely.

“Anything that can be done remotely, we’re doing that now,” Zelinka said.

Rogue Community Health will begin offering COVID-19 testing “in the next couple of weeks,” according to Zelinka.

“It will initially be available only to Rogue Community Health patients with a doctor’s order, but we’ll then be working to expand it to the greater community,” Zelinka said.

Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or nmorgan@rosebudmedia.com. Follow him on Twitter @MTCrimeBeat.

Shopper Cheryl Rasmussen picks up a free face mask and hand sanitizer bottle from Rogue Community Health as part of a giveaway Saturday in front of Sherm's Thunderbird Market in Medford.{ }Andy Atkinson / Mail Tribune