By Ashley Kaplan, Communications Specialist, Siskiyou Community Health Center
In 1973, Siskiyou Community Health Center began as the Takilma Peoples Clinic located in the Illinois Valley. A major health crisis resulted in volunteers from surrounding areas stepping in and helping. One volunteer, Dr. Jim Shames, came from the Multnomah County Health Department to help train other volunteers, but he ended up falling in love with the area and decided to move there permanently. Dr. Shames and other volunteers built the first Takilma Peoples Clinic, which initially started in a small farmhouse but moved to the Takilma Community Association building soon after in 1975. Originally, the Takilma Peoples Clinic saw patients who were mainly from the hippie commune in the area.
In 1987, the Longwood Fire forced an evacuation of the clinic. The Takilma People’s Clinic moved to the Illinois Valley Medical Center, where they stayed for two years before moving to Cave Junction. The clinic began to expand beyond primary care. Outreach services and Project Baby Check were created to serve families in the Cave Junction area. After a few years of being in the new facility, a clinic name change contest was proposed to employees, and the winning name of Siskiyou Community Health Center (SCHC) was chosen.
In the early 1990s, SCHC achieved Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) status, offering services to anyone, regardless of their financial condition.
In 1997, SCHC wanted to serve more of the Southern Oregon communities. In doing so, they added another facility by merging with a medical clinic and a dental clinic in Grants Pass. In 2007, SCHC built a 10,000-square-foot medical building in Cave Junction. This new building included a lab and radiology facility. Southern Oregon needed more dental clinics, and SCHC recognized this demand. They opened an off-site dental clinic in Grants Pass and in 2014 added one to their Cave Junction location. This facility doubled in size that same year, expanding the medical clinic and behavioral health department, bringing the Outreach department on-site, and adding a pharmacy. In 2010, the Grants Pass clinic followed suit by adding a pharmacy and lab; however, the demand for services continued to increase. In 2012, they moved to their current location and first LEED-certified green building in Grants Pass. After moving their dental clinic on-site four years later, SCHC’s Grants Pass facility expanded to include a medical clinic, dental clinic, pharmacy, lab, a walk-in clinic, behavioral health, and Outreach departments. With federal grant support and a growing need in Jackson County, SCHC extended their outreach services to Medford.
Cost, transportation, and concerns surrounding confidentiality are barriers that often keep children from getting the health services they need. To reduce these barriers, SCHC operates school-based health centers at three schools in the Illinois Valley and one in Grants Pass. Another one is opening in the county this fall. These on-site clinics provide a full range of physical, mental, and preventative health services to all students, regardless of their ability to pay.
SCHC played a vital role during the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure safety for providers and patients, they offered virtual visits and implemented many safety protocols to protect their patients and employees. In addition, at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, they became the first COVID-19 testing location in Josephine County and later offered a drive-thru COVID-19 vaccine clinic. They now provide testing and vaccines to anyone in the community.
Siskiyou Community Health Center began as a small clinic in 1973 and has become an integral provider of healthcare in Josephine County. They are committed to ensuring that more community members have access to high quality, comprehensive health care.