By Ted Shorack

The Bulletin

Deschutes County agreed Wednesday to donate 2 acres to St. Charles Health System in La Pine, where the health care company plans to open a new clinic.

The Deschutes County Commission voted unanimously to donate the land, which will be carved out of 5.6 acres acquired by the county in 2006 as part of a right of way exchange. The parcel is near the Huntington Road and Memorial Lane intersection and close to La Pine High School.

St. Charles said in late January it had plans to build a La Pine clinic, but hadn’t decided yet on the location. The company expects the project to cost about $6 million. The new clinic would have up to three primary-care doctors as well as lab and radiology services.

County Administrator Tom Anderson said Wednesday the county and St. Charles have been working on an agreement for some time.

The county’s 5.6 acres is valued at about $174,720, according to property records. The land is zoned for forest use. The health system will have to go through a rezoning process with the city of La Pine to allow for the clinic. The zone change would include the remaining county-owned portion. St. Charles would also be responsible for connecting utility lines to the property, another benefit to the county, Anderson said.

“The value of those two actions undertaken by St. Charles would be equivalent to a sale price,” he said.

“This is a reflection of great partnership in bringing about an added level of service to this part of the county,” said Commissioner Tammy Baney.

St. Charles will be required to apply for a partition to divide the 2 acres from the remaining county-owned portion and for the zone change before the official transfer of ownership.

The St. Charles clinic will be the second in the La Pine area. The La Pine Community Health Center, a nonprofit that receives federal grants, has operated since 2009. The center serves uninsured patients as well as those with private insurance.

Commissioner Tony De­Bone , who lives near La Pine, said there are residents of the city who are very supportive of a second option for health care.

“The existing La Pine health clinic does a great job serving the population,” said DeBone. “There is a need for more capacity so I’m very supportive.”

DeBone said the St. Charles clinic could potentially serve residents in northern Klamath and Lake counties and save them a long drive to St. Charles Bend.

Charla DeHate, CEO of the community health center, told The Bulletin in January that although the clinic has become busier recently it still has enough capacity to accommodate the influx.

St. Charles plans to open the new clinic by mid-2017. Construction at the site could begin late this year.

— Reporter: 541-617-7820,

tshorack@bendbulletin.com

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