A vision for expanded medical, dental and behavioral health services in Jefferson County is becoming a reality.
Construction on the $11 million health and wellness campus next to St. Charles Madras is nearing the halfway point and is expected to be completed in April. The 19,486-square-foot campus will house Jefferson County Public Health and Mosaic Medical, a nonprofit health provider with locations across Central Oregon. In addition, the new space will include a public community center and pharmacy.
Elaine Knobbs-Seasholtz, director of strategy and development at Mosaic Medical, said the campus at 500 NE A St. will combine all health services in one location for Jefferson County residents. Health care providers at the county health department and Mosaic will be able to send patients next door to St. Charles Madras, Knobbs-Seasholtz said.
“Our providers are going to be able to refer right across the parking lot for X-rays and labs,” Knobbs-Seasholtz said. “It makes it easier and takes away the barriers and stress of trying to navigate the health care world.”
Easier access to health care has become critical in Jefferson County, which has the highest rate of emergency room visits in Oregon and ranks lowest in the state for several health-related metrics, according to county health data.
Data shows the rates of adults with diabetes in Jefferson County is more than double compared to the state average and 40% of residents have had at least one permanent tooth removed due to decay or gum disease.
In addition, more than one-fourth of residents have been diagnosed with depression.
The bleak statistics are a motivation to expand services in Jefferson County, Knobbs-Seaholtz said. The new campus will double Mosaic’s medical exam room space and provide additional room for dental and behavioral health services.
“One of the things we are passionate about is that integration of medical and dental and thinking about the whole person,” Knobbs-Seasholtz said. “We will have more expanded dental and behavioral health in our new space, which means we can take that to another level.”
St. Charles Health System donated the land in Madras for the new campus. Jefferson County Public Health and Mosaic have partnered to raise the $11 million to construct the site.
The partners received a huge funding boost earlier this year when the state awarded the project $5.4 million from lottery funds.
Those funds were in jeopardy last year when state lawmakers decided to retract the money due to the COVD-19 pandemic keeping people from playing the state-sponsored games of chance.
Additional grants and donations came through this year for the project, including $60,000 from the Bean Foundation and nearly $1 million from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Knobbs-Seasholtz said $1.4 million is left to be raised through private grants, businesses and individual donations to fully fund the project.
“We are also fundraising in Madras and throughout Central Oregon,” Knobbs-Seasholtz said. “We have a number of individuals and businesses interested in supporting this project.”
Jefferson County Commissioner Kelly Simmelink said he is thrilled to see the local community and state lawmakers support the new health and wellness campus. Simmelink testified at the state Capitol in May to advocate for the state lottery funding.
Simmelink has known for several years that the county health department needed to move out of its current space on Fourth Street in Madras. The department outgrew the space and will better service the community on the larger campus, Simmelink said.
“Our old health building was in dire need of repair,” Simmelink said. “The commission before I was there had already approved more than $1 million in possible repairs.”
Simmelink can’t wait to see how streamlined health services will become with all the providers on the same block. It will hopefully address the chronic health problems in the community, he said.
“Now, you literally walk out the doors of the public health building and you have two options. You can go to the hospital or go to Mosaic,” Simmelink said. “There’s no excuse for anybody to not take care of whatever their health crisis is at that point.”
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