Rogue Community Health is an Oregon not-for-profit, 501(c) (3) Tax-exempt Corporation established in 1972 as Ashland Women’s Health Center. Rogue Community Health’s mission is to promote the health of low-income, working uninsured and other vulnerable children and adults in Jackson County, Oregon.
The early years
Originally founded as an all-volunteer health center for women, a growing demand for affordable health care services in 1977 influenced the hiring of staff and a name change to Ashland Rogue Community Health to better represent an expansion of services to, and a partnership with, the community. In 1978, funds were secured from the City of Ashland to hire a part-time physician and expand services three half-days a week. The clinic then moved from the second floor of a building on Main Street above a “sweet shop” to 246 Fourth Street in Ashland where services continued to be provided three half-days a week. Marylin Lenihan was the executive director at the time.
In 1983, due to a downturn in the timber industry and near 17% unemployment, many Jackson County residents faced barriers to accessing affordable health care. At the request of Medford City Council, a second clinic site opened in space donated at the Sacred Heart Parish in Medford. To reflect the expansion of services to include all of Jackson County, the agency’s name was changed again, this time to Rogue Community Health.
The ability for lower income patients to obtain much needed diagnostic tests was identified as barrier to providing quality medical care. In 1985, Rogue Community Health initiated discussion and reached an agreement with Providence Medford Medical Center for diagnostic imaging services and with Rogue Valley Medical Center for laboratory services thus removing cost as a barrier to accessing diagnostic tests for qualified Rogue Community Health patients.
Fire destroyed the Medford clinic site housed at Sacred Heart Parish in 1987 forcing temporary closure of the clinic. When service was re-established at Sacred Heart Parish, space was added for the expansion of services to four half days a week and Peg Crowley was hired as Executive Director in August 1987.
During the late 1980s, to keep up with increased demand, services were expanded to five full days in Medford. Adult counseling was added utilizing volunteers and student interns supervised by Kathy R. Ingram, PhD. Eric Webb, MD, assumed the responsibility of Medical Director and Tom Hazel was hired as a nurse practitioner.
It was in 1993 that the buildings at 19 Myrtle Street in Medford were purchased with grant funding. With expanded clinic space, the number of patients served was doubled. The buildings were formerly the home of Medford Ear, Nose & Throat Clinic and the Medical Eye Center. The timing was perfect for this expansion as in 1994; Oregon Health Plan expanded state health coverage. Services for the working poor, those who did not qualify for the Oregon Health Plan, were also expanded. Karen Kahn, MD was hired as Medical Director/clinic physician and Shannon Rio, RN and Annette Batzer, RN were added to the staff.
The VOLPACT Program was established in 1994 by the Jackson County Medical Society with the assistance of John Forsyth, MD, as a “temporary” charitable bridge to specialty consultations and expensive procedures for low-income, working uninsured in Jackson County. Ashland Community, Providence Medford and Rogue Valley Medical Center as well as 85% of Jackson County physicians volunteered. The bulk of the primary care and preliminary screening is provided by Rogue Community Health and La Clinica.
Rogue Community Health celebrated “25 YEARS OF CARING” in 1997; a celebration made possible by the vision of its founders, board members, the commitment and investments of local units of government, hospitals, health care providers, members of the Medical Society, church and civic groups, charitable foundations, the United Way and more than 500 individuals who annually donate the funding and resources necessary to ensure that timely and affordable health care is a reality for all families in Jackson County.
With clinics now in Ashland and Medford, the attention turned to the Upper Rogue region. In partnership with the Upper Rogue Family Center, White City residents, and Jackson County Health and Human Services, Rogue Community Health successfully obtained a four-year grant from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. The express purpose of the grant was to reduce the rate of infant mortality and the number of low-birth-weight infants born to residents of White City and Upper Rogue region of Jackson County. Rogue Community Health opened a third clinic in White City on Antelope Rd. February 9, 1998, in temporary space made possible by Mike Burrill and initiated a capital campaign to raise $3.5 million to construct a new clinic. Olive Lansburgh was the capital campaign chair. The goal was to construct a new, debt-free clinic plus add new providers.
When the small, temporary clinic in White City first opened in 1998, the infant mortality rate was three times the National average (23 deaths per thousand). Oregon’s Office of Epidemiology for White City reported for the period 2006-2008 that the infant mortality rate in White City was 2.09 per thousand – significantly lower than county, state and national statistics. We have this great outcome because quality healthcare was made accessible and affordable for moms.
In 1999, attention returned to Ashland as members of the Greater Medford Rotary Club volunteered to move the Ashland clinic to a new facility at 99 Central Ave. The number of exam rooms increased from two to seven and the facility offered five times the floor space. Generous gifts from the community, many businesses, foundations, grants and government funding made it possible to open a new clinic in April 1999.
Meanwhile, out in White City, construction was underway for a new clinic at 8385 Division Rd on land donated by the Ted Hornecker Family; funds were raised in a capital campaign to cover construction costs and Rogue Community Health in White City opened in December 2004 as a Federally-Qualified Health Center after receiving its very first HRSA (Health Resource and Services Administration) grant.
Children were facing barriers to accessing medical care in 2005, so Rogue Community Health’s Board of Directors started a fundraising campaign called “Every Child Can Have a Medical Home” with the goal that no child should be denied the opportunity for needed medical care. Children receive their first medical visit at no cost and then assistance to enroll in Oregon’s Healthy Kids Insurance Program.
Founded by volunteers to support access to women’s health care in 1972, the mission was continued as the agency announced the Every Woman Can Have a Medical Home” program. This program helps to remove cost as a barrier for income qualified uninsured or underinsured women to receive life-saving cancer screenings and is funded by a combination of support from Oregon’s Breast and Cervical Cancer Program and by generous donations.
The opportunity to finish the second floor of the White City clinic in 2010 was the result of funds from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. This allowed staff offices to relocation to the second floor and valuable space on the first floor to be converted to exam rooms.
2010 and Beyond
Electronic health records went live in 2010 thanks to a Federal grant funding opportunity. Patient information is now shared between staff and facilities in a secure, electronic manner enable providers to track patient care in real time. Patients can easily access their personal health information 24/7 through a secure online connect called MyChart.
A need was identified in the Eagle Point School District and funding was sought to construct a school-based health center (SBHC) in space provided in partnership with Eagle Point High School. Opening January 19, 2011, the SBHC serves the healthcare needs of students and faculty at the high school. School officials report that since the SBHC opened, classroom attendance is higher than ever. Healthy kids do learn better!
Families in the geographically remote community of Butte Falls no longer need to drive to Eagle Point or farther to access medical care thanks to Rogue Community Health receiving its second new access point grant from HRSA. Rogue Community Health in Butte Falls opened November 2011. Rogue Community Health immediately sought funding and support from the Butte Falls School Board to open a school-based health center within the new clinic. Renovation commenced and by fall 2012, Butte Falls Charter School students had access to medical care right on the school grounds.
Renovation and expansion of the aged Medford clinic site became possible thanks to a grant obtained through the Affordable Care Act, a City of Medford Community Block Development Grant, foundation grants and individual donations. The now 10,792 sq. ft. fully handicapped accessible, 15 exam room clinic celebrated with a grand opening on October 17, 2012, to share the importance of this new facility for generations to come.
A medical home is best described as a model or philosophy of primary care that is patient-centered, comprehensive, team-based, coordinated, accessible and focused on quality and safety. Rogue Community Health announced in 2012 that all clinic and school-based health center sites were recognized by Oregon Health Authority as Tier 3 Patient-Centered Primary Care Homes. Tier 3 is the highest level of recognition achievable.
The Oregon Primary Care Association recognized Lisa Hendricks, Chief Operating Officer, and Ginger Scott, Chief Nursing Officer, for their contribution to providing comprehensive culturally competent primary care to medically underserved communities. Hendricks and Scott received the “2013 Leadership in Transformation” award.
Where we are today
2013 was a year of transition and preparation for implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Open enrollment began in October 2013 and by January 2014; many of the estimated 16,000 uninsured Jackson County residents had insurance.
Thousands of Jackson County residents rely on Rogue Community Health for affordable, accessible, and compassionate health care services. Medical care offered by Community Health Care is uniquely tailored to meet the specific needs of low-income, homeless, and working poor members of our community. By “low income,” we mean those people who are ineligible for public assistance, including medical care; and by “working poor,” we mean those who are employed at minimum-wage positions, those who are uninsured, and those who are underinsured in Jackson County. In the absence of primary health care services and medication assistance provided by the Rogue Community Health staff at our 4 individual sites, nearly 10,000 current patients would be left with few options except the hospital emergency room. The service provided by the Rogue Community Health staff and volunteers are focused on the promotion of health, prevention of disease and disability, mental health, and the treatment of illness.
All communities rely on healthy people. When healthcare is made available to the least-able members of the community, the quality of life for all residents is enhanced. We accomplish this through the provision of primary and subsidiary health care services, individual and group health education, information, and referral.