Grant Supports Reopening of Clatskanie Primary Care

A closed health clinic near Clatskanie Middle/High School reopened in August for primary care services three days a week. Community Health Center of Clatskanie, 401 Bel Air Drive, will be under the administrative umbrella and licensure of Astoria’s Coastal Family Health Center, with startup funding provided by CareOregon.

Plans also include recruiting medical staff to expand hours to full time, and eventually operating a school-based clinic for students in the nearby school.

A grant of $40,000 from CareOregon will get the clinic equipped, says Jim Coffee, Coastal Family Health CEO.

“It tends to be really expensive,” Coffee says. “With the grant from CareOregon, we’re going to be able to outfit the clinic, so all Coastal Family funds will be for operations.”

The start-up funds are from CareOregon Community Benefit Grants and supports CareOregon’s rural health equity goals.

Coffee says that they appreciate the community welcoming them in.

“And we’re grateful to CareOregon for letting us come in to serve this community,” he says.

In absence of primary care in Clatskanie, patients have been traveling to Astoria for care.

“We currently see about 100 people from that community.” Coffee says. “People drive the 30-some miles to see us in Astoria.”

Clatskanie has had difficulties maintaining a primary health care presence. Three practices have opened and closed there in 10 years; the most recent closing last March.

Coastal Family Health is a Federally Qualified Health Center, designated by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Bureau of Primary Health Care. It has received a change of scope to include the Clatskanie clinic. As an FQHC, it will be qualified to apply for support that private clinics cannot access, and that will make it more stable.

The new clinic is now open five days a week.

“In conjunction with that, we’re working as medical sponsor for a school-based clinic for Clatskanie Middle/High School, which is almost adjacent to the clinic,” Coffee says. “The details have yet to be worked out, but we hope to locate a school-based clinic inside the facility, with a separate entrance. We hope to be open at the beginning of the 2015-16 school year.”

“I’m really, really excited,” Coffee says. “Clatskanie is a community that has had the opportunity for health care and has had it taken away. Coastal Family Health is excited to be able to come in and be a stable health care provider for a long time to come.”

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