By Steve Manela, Lane County Human Services Division Manager, and Jeanne Campos, Community Health Centers of Lane County Outreach Coordinator
In 2002, in collaboration with the Latino Medical Access Coalition, the Lane County Human Services Commission wrote and received a grant from the Meyer Memorial Trust to conduct a needs assessment to open a FQHC in Lane County. The vision was to establish a Community Health Center in Lane County to serve uninsured and underinsured residents. At that time, over 65,000 Lane County residents were uninsured. The group hired a grant writer to assist with the submission of a new start grant in 2003 to establish Community Health Centers of Lane County (CHCLC). Lane County opened the original RiverStone Clinic in Springfield, the homeless youth New Roads Clinic, and three school based health center sites at Springfield High School and Churchill High School and South Eugene High School in Eugene in 2004.
In 2005 and 2006, Lane County was successful in obtaining additional expansion grants to serve homeless and migrant community members. The CHCLC was initially a program of the Human Services Division and when it expanded, became its own Division under Lane County Health & Human Services. Later in 2008, a clinic site was added at Lane County Behavioral Health, establishing the integration of behavioral health and primary care there within the scope of the FQHC. In the first five years of the Community Health Centers of Lane County, over 10,000 Lane County residents established primary care. This was prior to Medicaid Expansion under the Affordable Care Act so a larger proportion of our patients had no insurance and no previous medical home during this time period.
When the first CHCLC primary care clinic opened its doors on March 1, 2004, it shared the front desk and exam rooms with a private practice that was still using the space for a few weeks until the end of their lease. The CHCLC clinic was initially named the Metro Clinic and later renamed River Stone Clinic.
The first clinic started with one nurse practitioner and a few dozen patients from the Eugene-Springfield area.
Community Health Centers of Lane County now has 6 clinics sites in Eugene and Springfield, and will soon be opening a new clinic site in Cottage Grove. We serve over 30,000 established patients. Services include: primary care, pediatrics, integrated behavioral health, integrated oral health, alternative care, and OHP enrollment assistance. Patient languages that we serve include Spanish, Chinese, Vietnamese, Korean and Mam.
Over the last year, the CHCLC has implemented telehealth visits, transitioned to virtual patient education sessions, and provided on site COVID-19 vaccination clinics to our patients. Our Patient Education, Trauma-Informed Care, and Equity committees collaborate to provide necessary resources to our patients as we strive to reduce the social and health inequities that impact our community members. We mailed out COVID-19 vaccination postcards to patients in multiple languages and did an outreach event with the Guatemalan community in Cottage Grove. Our Alternative Care program delivered assistance to patients seeking help with pain and symptoms, via phone visits, patient education and acupressure supplies mailed USPS to patients’ homes. The pandemic has not stopped our certified application assisters from continuing to help patients and community members apply for health insurance benefits, especially those who have recently lost their employment. We continue to strive to improve the health outcomes of our patients through high quality primary care and are committed to improving access to care and addressing health disparities of our community.