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25th Anniversary Celebration

In 1990 Wallowa County was in trouble. Dr. Siebe and Dr. Euhus were the only docs in town. Dr. Siebe conducted a formal survey of doctors across the state and found a similar story in all of rural Oregon – docs leaving or retiring, and communities in need. Dr. Euhus took these findings to the state legislature with a strong call to action – do something now, or Oregon is in trouble! And the legislature listened. From that session came the creation of Oregon’s AHEC (Area Health Education Center), and a mandate to OHSU to train and retain primary care doctors across the state of Oregon.

This July marks the 25th anniversary of both the AHEC program and of OHSU Family Medicine’s rural rotation in Enterprise. These programs together have touched Wallowa County in countless ways. The AHEC has brought programs like MedQuest and Girls in Science that have trained and mentored Wallowa County Youth to pursue health-focused careers. The AHEC Rural Community Health Clerkship and Oregon Rural Scholars rotations in Enterprise, and the OHSU rural residency program in Klamath Falls have brought to Wallowa County four primary care doctors – Dr. Caine, Dr. DeYoung, Dr. Powers and Dr. Sheehan.

We have much to celebrate with 25 years of successful collaboration between OHSU Family Medicine, AHEC and Wallowa County. In the last year AHEC programs have had an impact on 20 youth from Wallowa County and 10 medical students in training at OHSU. We continue to train, mentor and recruit additional new physicians – All twelve second year OHSU residents rotate through Winding Waters as a rural training site, and Klamath Falls residents can choose Wallowa County as the site for their “frontier” rotation.

What makes this successful? You! Time and again, the Wallowa County community has come together to welcome these new docs and make this a place they feel at home, and can picture coming to live. The Wallowa Valley Health Care Foundation – whose purpose is to raise money to help improve and expand healthcare services in Wallowa County - served as a convener to raise funds, donated materials and donated time to build the house on the hill where rotating residents and students currently stay. “The house that Enterprise built” is one clear physical demonstration of this community’s commitment to health and quality health care.

Yet today we find ourselves in much the same place as we were 25 years ago. Wallowa County and other rural communities across the state are struggling to provide the solid primary care base that is needed to help keep communities healthy and thriving. We are proud to have top quality primary care in Wallowa County! Both Mountain View Medical and Winding Waters are recognized as Patient Centered Primary Care Homes; and Winding Waters continues to receive state and national recognition for its work in health care transformation. But the message to the legislature must remain clear – we need programs that support doctors coming to and living in rural Oregon communities, and we need programs to build the health care teams supporting these doctors. A new mandate to OHSU needs to say again, clearly, that the mission of this pubic institution is to provide a broad-based work force (nurses, PAs, NPs, dentists, hygienists, physicians, medical assistants, etc.) to meet the comprehensive primary health care needs of rural Oregon.

We are celebrating 25 years of success, and again raising a call to action for more support for rural primary care infrastructure – including additional new physicians to serve our community for years to come. Come celebrate with us!

  • Town Hall Meeting:Saturday July 23rd from 3-5 PM at Cloverleaf Hall
    • Who’s invited?
      • The Wallowa County Community
      • The Office of Rural Health board and staff
      • Local and state legislators
  • Community BBQ and Square Dance: Saturday July 23rd from 5-10pm at the Blue Barn
    • Who’s invited?
      • The Wallowa County Community
      • All the medical residents from OHSU and Klamath Falls who have rotated through Enterprise over the last 25 years
      • OHSU Family Medicine department faculty
      • AHEC board members and staff

For more information contact: