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La Clinica buys personal growth business

The Medford-based nonprofit health care organization La Clinica announced Wednesday it is buying a Eugene business that puts on personal growth seminars.

La Clinica will spend $150,000 to buy WINGS Seminars Inc., said La Clinica Communications Officer Julie Wurth.

The company offers seminars on personal growth and development, leadership and team-building in Eugene, Seattle and Sacramento.

La Clinica will continue the Eugene seminars, and will determine whether there is enough demand to continue the seminars in Washington and California, said La Clinica Chief Executive Officer Brenda Johnson.

A WINGS office manager in Eugene will work for La Clinica, and the nonprofit will contract with two people who facilitate seminars, Wurth said.

The acquisition, which is expected to be complete on March 1, will allow La Clinica to launch seminars in Medford that will serve patients and the larger community, she said.

"For many years, we've realized health care has to change," Johnson said. "We support and help patients make healthy lifestyle decisions."

The seminars will help people improve their entire lives — increasing their confidence and sense of personal empowerment, she said.

"Health care is a small fraction of what helps people get healthy," Johnson said, noting that other factors include lifestyle and behavior.

A person who feels confident and empowered may be better equipped to follow the steps needed to keep diabetes or hypertension under control, for example. That could lead to fewer trips to the emergency room and lower health care costs, Johnson said.

"We hope we can demonstrate long-term reductions in health care costs. We want to research and demonstrate that," she said.

La Clinica has already taken steps to help patients make healthy lifestyle choices. It opened a wellness center last year and offers healthful cooking classes, yoga and Zumba exercise classes and other programs.

Instead of just talking about exercise and nutrition with patients, La Clinica health care providers can point patients to specific programs, Johnson said.

While the stereotypical demographic for personal growth seminars is middle-class professionals, Johnson said low-income people and others who are struggling can benefit, as well.

La Clinica focuses on providing health care access to low-income people, but is open to everyone in the community, with services offered on a sliding-scale.

If a busy, working, single mom took a seminar, she could leave with increased self-confidence and a greater sense of what is possible in her life, Johnson said.

"People have gotten job promotions after the seminars. They see themselves as more powerful," she said.

La Clinica may seek grants and charitable donations to help make the seminars more affordable for low-income people. If the seminars prove profitable, La Clinica could also subsidize the seminars for some participants, Johnson said.

The cost of a four-day Personal Effectiveness Seminar is $595 in Eugene and $695 in Seattle and Sacramento, according to WINGS Seminars, Inc.

More than 35,000 people have attended WINGS seminars since 1986, the company said.

La Clinica has offered the seminars to its employees in leadership positions for years, Johnson said.

Wurth is among the La Clinica employees who have attended seminars. She said they are helpful for both personal and professional development.

"I learned to communicate better in all my relationships and to think about and pursue what I really want in life," Wurth said.

La Clinica offers medical and dental care at 17 sites, including health care centers, schools and through a mobile clinic. It served more than one in 10 Jackson County residents last year.

Its programs include primary and preventive medical and dental care, behavioral health services, chronic disease management, prescription assistance, low-cost medication, referral case management, translation assistance, Oregon Health Plan application assistance, maternal/child health services, laboratory work, outreach and social services.

Staff reporter Vickie Aldous can be reached at 541-776-4486 or valdous@mailtribune.com. Follow her at www.twitter.com/VickieAldous.