Building a Wellness Center with a Focus on Community and Families

The La Pine community and its surrounding areas have experienced significant growth, with the City of La Pine seeing an 8.2% increase in population between 2022 and 2023. Amid this expansion, La Pine Community Health Center (LCHC) has been actively addressing the evolving needs of its community. The construction of a new Wellness Center, encompassing a dental clinic, diagnostic imaging center, expanded mental health services, and more, reflects the commitment to enhancing healthcare services.

Notably, LCHC has taken a unique step by incorporating an on-site childcare center into the Wellness Center, recognizing the challenges faced by employees in securing reliable childcare. In this Q&A with Courtney Ignazzitto, Marketing & Communications Manager for LCHC, we delve into the motivations behind this childcare initiative, its reception within the La Pine community, and its broader implications for healthcare workers’ work-life balance, gender equity, and employee retention. The journey of LCHC unfolds as a testament to their dedication to not only delivering excellent healthcare but also fostering a supportive and inclusive environment for both staff and patients alike.

What has the community in/around La Pine been up to lately?

The City of La Pine and the greater La Pine area have been growing rapidly. The Portland State Population Research Center estimated that La Pine experienced an 8.2% growth between 2022 and 2023. We have many new housing developments in the area and at La Pine Community Health Center (LCHC), we are building and expanding to meet the needs of the growing community.

Our new Wellness Center will house a dental clinic, diagnostic imaging center, expanded mental health services, space for community education and LCHC’s administrative offices. This project will also allow space for additional primary care providers and a childcare center to be utilized by LCHC staff.

What inspired or motivated La Pine Community Health Center to champion a childcare support service in the new wellness center?

When planning the expansion project, we wanted to add something that would benefit our employees in addition to the new and expanded services that we will have for patients. It is no secret that childcare services are costly and often hard to find. We, like many others, have lost great employees over the years due to either lack of reliable childcare or inability afford it. Our leadership team saw an opportunity and decided to create space for an on-site childcare center.

Since we are a non-profit, federally qualified health center, we are not able to run a childcare business of our own. Instead, we will provide the facility and will contract with a childcare provider to operate their business on-site.

How has the La Pine community responded so far to the introduction of childcare services as part of the wellness center?

Our employees are filled with excitement at the thought of having care available for their children—care that will be just steps away from many of their workspaces. Members of our community have also been warm and encouraging about this addition. Folks understand how important it is for families to have reliable childcare so they can pursue their careers and earn an income.

Do you have a personal experience that highlights the importance/value of work-life balance in your own life?

My husband and I are currently waiting to be matched for adoption of an infant, so we are preparing ourselves to become parents. As we consider how our lives and priorities will change, we know that safe and reliable childcare will be paramount so that we can have minimal interruption to our roles in the workplace. I’m so thankful that I will not have to worry about searching high and low for a childcare provider because I will be able to utilize the childcare center at LCHC. Other employees of ours have not had this advantage in their own family planning, but I am thankful that this will be an option in the near future.

Can you share your thoughts on the significance of supporting healthcare workers in balancing their professional and personal lives, particularly regarding childcare responsibilities?

Healthcare professionals bear tremendous responsibilities in their efforts to care for patients. Lack of support for balancing their professional and personal lives can lead to burnout and decreased job satisfaction.

Finding and retaining childcare can be especially challenging. According to a JAMA study in 2020, healthcare workers with high childcare stress were 80% more likely to experience burnout. The goal of our addition of accessible childcare is to alleviate some of the stress that could lead to burnout.

As our HR Manager, Amber Posvar, often says, “We take care of the people who take care of the people (original quote source unknown).” Without our employees, there would be no one to care for our patients, so we feel it is our duty to make sure they have the tools and support they need to be successful and present.

If folks would like to follow the progress of our Wellness Center project and the Building for Health Community capital campaign, the can visit us at center.

How might the provision of childcare services enhance employee retention within the healthcare sector?

Providing support for childcare is bound to enhance retention rates by removing barriers that may otherwise drive staff away and shows value for the contribution of women in healthcare. In addition, childcare support could be a powerful recruitment tool to attract talent.

In what ways can childcare support contribute to promoting gender equity in the healthcare workforce?

Women have traditionally carried the responsibility of childcare in their families. Considering that women make up around three-quarters of the healthcare workforce, an overwhelming number of women in healthcare are at risk for burnout due to a disproportionate burden of childcare responsibilities.

Accessible childcare will enable women healthcare professionals to pursue career advancement opportunities without sacrificing their professional aspirations for family obligations. Employers that prioritize childcare support show commitment to gender equality in the workplace. By normalizing the provision of childcare assistance, healthcare organizations can foster a more inclusive and supportive workplace culture.

Share your closing thoughts! What would you want your fellow Oregonians to know about the work you all are doing at La Pine?

The end goal of everything we do at LCHC is to provide excellent care to our community so they can live happy, healthy lives. The expansion of our services and the boost to our employee benefits are all strategically designed to help us provide better care, both as an organization and as individuals.

Our team is thrilled about the many changes and additions that we are making and look forward to seeing it all come to fruition.

If folks would like to follow the progress of our Wellness Center project and the Building for Health Community capital campaign, the can visit us at center.

Relevant resources for FQHCs:

Do you have a health equity topic that you’d like our Health Equity Committee to look into? Is your health center leading the charge in driving equitable change? We’d love to highlight you!

Fill out the ‘What the HEC?’ Topic Suggestion/Request to be Highlighted form.