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Our Beginnings

Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center (NEOAHEC) was established in 1991 as the very first AHEC in Oregon.

Oregon AHEC's history began with the grassroots efforts of two physicians from Enterprise, Dr. Lowell Euhus and Dr. Scott Siebe. They met with State Senator Mike Thorne in 1988 to request help with the "crisis in rural healthcare." They hosted a symposium in Joseph, Oregon, with rural physicians, legislators, Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), educators and others interested in rural healthcare across the state.

Chuck Hofmann, MD, from Baker City chaired an Oregon Medical Association Rural Health subcommittee that included rural physicians and Dr. Dutch Reinschmidt of OHSU. The committee developed legislation aimed at enhancing rural healthcare and supporting rural care providers. Those pieces of legislation provided for a rural primary care provider tax credit, a rural loan repayment program, initial funding for the AHECs and moving the Office of Rural Health to OHSU.

Once state funding was secured for AHECs, Dr. Reinschmidt began working with others to secure federal funding. In 1990, funding was obtained, and Oregon AHEC quickly began to form its first regional center to be located in La Grande. NEOAHEC held its meeting as an incorporated board in April 1991, quickly after establishing itself as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit.