(Commissioner Phil Chang | Photo courtesy of Cody Rheault, Cody Roux Media)
“Congratulations to La Pine Community Health Center on this incredible day,” said Deschutes County Commissioner Phil Chang, speaking at the recent groundbreaking for its new 27,000-square-foot Wellness Center. “South County is an underserved area. The demand is there to make a much larger facility and a much larger staff to keep that facility busy.”
“The Wellness Center will be so impactful for the community, which needs and deserves the services it will bring,” said CEO Erin Trapp, emphasizing that La Pine Community Health Center’s “commitment to ensuring access to health care for all, regardless of income, is the driving force behind the project.”
Trapp added that while the Wellness Center project began two years ago, “the vision goes much further back” to Charla DeHate, previous CEO, who was among the speakers. Said DeHate: “This project will increase access to necessary healthcare services for residents of south Deschutes County as well as for those in the surrounding areas of north Klamath and northwest Lake counties — a total of 25-30,000 people. So, as the community grows, La Pine Community Health Center also needs to grow.”
La Pine Community Health Center (LCHC) is a nonprofit community health center that was designated as a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in 2009. As such, it is eligible for federal funds and grants to offset costs of uncompensated care for an underserved population in a largely rural area who have low household incomes and lack access to health care.
Last year, approximately 39 percent of LCHC’s patients were covered under the Oregon Health Plan and Medicaid, with 35 percent covered by Medicare, and 22 percent carried private insurance. Less than one percent were uninsured.
La Pine Community Health Center ranks in the top ten percent of all health centers in the nation (according to the Health Resources and Services Administration’s (HRSA) Bureau of Primary Health Care). (In 2020, about 1,400 FQHCs provided health care to more than 29 million people throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories.)
The three-story Wellness Center, adjacent to LCHC’s existing building on Huntington Road, will provide additional space for dental and diagnostic imaging services (such as CT scans, mammograms, and ultrasound); increase capacity for behavioral and mental health services; and expand primary care services by 45 percent. The project will also include daycare for employees’ young children, remodeled offices to accommodate the growth of the administrative support team, and a public-use conference room.
Cost of Wellness Center project is estimated at $14 million — with some $6 million already received from the federal government and the state: $3 million from a Congressionally Directed Spending Appropriation, and $3 million in state funding secured during the 2023 legislative session. A capital campaign is underway to raise another $5 million in support from the community.
State Representative E. Werner Reschke, whose efforts helped secure the latter, “which will benefit many people for decades to come,” agreed with other speakers at the event that “having local access to good, modern healthcare is essential to sustaining a healthy community.”
Those in attendance also included Deschutes County Commissioners Tony DeBone and Patti Adair, as well as La Pine City Manager Geoff Wullschlager, and Erick Holsey and Dan Daugherty, La Pine Fire District Fire Chief and Assistant Fire Chief, respectively. Joining them were representatives from Stemach Design + Architecture, chosen as the project’s architect, and Skanska USA, the general contractor, as well as dozens of supporters and employees of La Pine Community Health Center.
Construction of the Wellness Center is slated to begin this fall, with the new facility projected to open in late 2024 or early 2025.
lapinehealth.org • 51600 Huntington Rd., La Pine