Oregon Primary Care Association Honors Primary Care Leaders

May 14, 2012 -- The Oregon Primary Care Association (OPCA) is honoring 12 Oregonians for their outstanding contributions to the state’s network of community health centers.  Health centers provide comprehensive, culturally competent primary care to 312,000
Oregonians in medically underserved communities.

OPCA gives annual Health Center Leadership awards in six categories.  Honorees for 2012
are: 

  • Community Health Center Value Award:  Simon Parker-Shames, Angelica Ruppe, Ida Saito and Maria Underwood, data work group, La Clinica (Medford).
  • Growth Award:  Luke Barsalou, dental director, La Clinica (Medford).
  • Health Equities Awards:  Gil Munoz, CEO, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center (Washington & Yamhill Counties);  Kelly Volkmann, health navigation program manager, Benton Health Services (Benton & Linn Counties).
  • Primary Care Home Award:  Susan Marie, medical director of behavioral health, Old Town Clinic, Central City Concern (Portland).
  • Professional Engagement Award:  Jim Coffee, CEO, Coastal Family Health Center (Astoria).
  • Sustainability Award:  Carla Stout, Eric Van Houten and Jeri Weeks, executive and clinical team, Community Health Centers of Lane County.
  • Simon Parker-Shames, Angelica Ruppe, Ida Saito and Maria Underwood of La Clinica, Medford, took a new approach to demonstrating the value of community health centers through data and research. They used electronic health records to determine thevalue of the “enabling” services provided by health centers.  These services – including care management, translation and transportation to medical appointments – remove barriers for thousands of patients who otherwise would not have access to cost-effective, preventive care.
  • Luke Barsalou, dental director, is ensuring that La Clinica meets the Medford area’s growing demand for oral health services.  Under Luke’s leadership, La Clinica opened a 34-chair East Medford Dental Clinic on March 20. As many as 10,000 new patients are expected to receive preventive care at the new facility this year. Says Luke: “Emergency rooms in Jackson County spend tons of time and money every year treating completely preventable diseases like tooth decay.  To lower the cost of health care, let’s start with prevention.”
  • Gil Munoz is a leader in improving health equity in Washington and Yamhill counties. During his tenure as CEO, Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center has grown from serving 7,000 patients at two sites to serving 35,000 patients at four primary care clinics, three dental clinics, two school-based health centers and a mobile outreach clinic.  In the fall of this year, Gil and his team will cut the ribbon on a new, 35,000-square-foot Cornelius Wellness Center. This state-of-the-art health center will serve vulnerable Oregonians, provide jobs and anchor Cornelius’ Main Street vision.
  • Kelly Volkmann, winner of a health equity award, is health navigation program manager for the Community Health Centers of Benton and Linn Counties.  Kelly is the driving force in training bilingual/bicultural community health workers as “health navigators” for underserved Oregonians.  Navigators help these patients – many of them Latino/Hispanic – enroll in the Oregon Health Plan and make their way through the often-complicated healthcare system.  Thanks to Kelly’s program, more of these patients are getting the preventive care they need and staying out of expensive emergency rooms.
  • Susan Marie, medical director of behavioral health, was honored for her work in implementing the “patient-centered primary care home” at Old Town Clinic (part of Central City Concern) in Portland.  Under the primary care home model, patients enjoy comprehensive care from a team of providers, including behaviorists.  Susan helps integrate these services by teaching medical and behavioral provider teams how best to handle their differences and potential “culture clashes.”
  • Jim Coffee has demonstrated outstanding results in recruiting and retaining health care providers.  He’s faced the challenge of bringing new doctors to the small coastal community of Astoria and helping them stay engaged in their work.  “What sets Jim apart is his commitment to the personal side of our business,” says Dr. Samuel Suk, medical director at Coastal Family Health Center.  “He has brought in providers who are beloved by patients and who stay with us for the long term.”
  • Carla Stout, Eric Van Houten and Jeri Weeks are strengthening and sustaining health centers by adopting Lean practices at Community Health Centers of Lane County. Lean focuses on key goals, like decreasing the time needed to fill prescriptions or improving blood sugar levels for diabetic patients. Notes Jeri Weeks: “Every patient deserves great care.  With Lean, we keep our patients healthier while cutting out unnecessary work.”

Honorees received their awards at OPCA’s annual members meeting on April 27.

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