Vernonia Health Center receives funding for program facility director

VERNONIA, Ore. — Vernonia Health Center has received project funding of $15,000 from the Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization to help fund a program facility director. The facility director will be the point person to build innovative and collaborative relationships and partnerships to develop the center into a sustainable patient-centered primary care medical home.

“The devastating flood of 2007 has given us an opportunity to reinvent ourselves,” says Heather Lewis, program director. “The mandate to move the facility out of the flood plain, coupled with Oregon’s health care reform, has given an opportunity to renew and revise how we will deliver services in our new facility.”

The new health center will be a patient-centered medical home providing primary care services. It also will offer mental and behavioral health, addiction and prevention services, as well as physical and occupational therapy. A medical home focuses on providing patients a more user-friendly, cohesive, ongoing relationship with all their providers—serving them not only when they are sick, but helping them to stay healthy.

Columbia Pacific CCO recently awarded funding totaling $57,000 for seven projects as part of its Community Wellness Investment Fund. The Columbia Pacific CCO board of directors created the funding program to encourage innovation, collaboration and health care transformation in the communities it serves. The funds support programs that are sustainable and are aligned with each community’s priorities for addressing health inequities and gaps in service or care.

“Our goal is to create a business model that is lean and sustainable, yet flexible, responsive and can expand to keep pace with medical and technical innovations and the changing needs of the people it serves,” says Lewis. She explains that the key to this model is partnering with like-minded individuals and organizations. The health center began with a focus on primary care services partnering with the Public Health Foundation of Columbia County and Pacific University College of Physician Assistants. Over the next 12 months, it will continue to expand partnerships with other organizations.

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