OHSU Extends Support to Elgin Clinic
By Trish Yerges, The Observer, La Grande, Ore.
Jun. 30–ELGIN — Mayor Carmen Gentry has announced that Oregon Health & Science University will continue providing staff and support to the Elgin Family Clinic through August.
“They are extending (their support) to us until the end of August so we can continue to work on getting the last bit of money we need,” Gentry said Friday.
The city of Elgin has raised $93,500 to date and is actively seeking funding sources for the remaining $23,500. This bridge funding will allow the clinic to operate for a year until the first tax payments are received in November 2009 under the proposed health district.
At the June 25 county commissioners meeting, there was no opposition to the proposed health district measure, and the commissioners approved sending it to the ballot in November, Gentry said.
In the interim, OHSU support has been vital to the clinic’s survival as the city seeks bridge funding.
Carol Ledbetter, Ph.D., associate dean of the OHSU School of Nursing in La Grande, commented that the offer of extended support is in line with OHSU’s goals for the Elgin health district.
“We want to provide both support and continuity of health care to the community through this transition. We want to let the city set the pace, and we want to listen carefully to the mayor and city manager about their needs during this transition,” Ledbetter said.
The Elgin Family Clinic has “rural health clinic” status, which means that it is eligible to receive a higher rate of reimbursements for treatments provided to some patients — a fact that impacts the clinic’s viability.
“We’ve been a good steward of the clinic, protecting and maintaining its status so that it can be handed over to the city this way,” Ledbetter said.
Whoever operates the clinic after OHSU leaves will also benefit from Ledbetter’s success at establishing a community-based electronic medical records system. In April 2006, Ledbetter contracted with Chart Connect of Yakima to set up a high-speed Internet service that would facilitate the EMR at the Elgin clinic.
This electronic patient database is a secure, protected site, said Ledbetter. It is designed with treatment templates that enable clinic providers to respond to patients with the standard of care. It also allows the clinic provider to electronically send prescriptions to pharmacies and to receive vital laboratory and X-ray reports. This expedient, cost effective system will remain with the clinic when it is handed over to the city.
“We’re working to help the city meet their goals,” she said, “and we don’t want to interrupt the continuity of health care to the community. We will be there to partner with the Elgin clinic and have our students there as part of our academic program.”
Ledbetter also expressed her appreciation for Mayor Gentry’s graciousness and support during this transition period.
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