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With ground-breaking, One Community Health starts new chapter

OCH Board Member Susan Gabay talks with Andreas Bibian, left, and Everisto Romero at the facility groundbreaking.

Submitted photo
OCH Board Member Susan Gabay talks with Andreas Bibian, left, and Everisto Romero at the facility groundbreaking.



Susan Gabay stood in the shade with two friends, talking about what the future holds for One Community Health. Gabay is a charter board member of the community health clinic, founded in 1991.

She spoke with Everisto Romero, a community health worker for OCH, and past client Andreas Bibian, after the Aug. 16 ceremonial ground-breaking for OCH’s new facility, on a vacant lot at Eighth and Pacific streets.

“We are very excited, very thrilled about this opportunity,” Gabay said. “We have been planning, and analyzing, from pre-2015, with a lot of people putting a lot of energy into this. The board believes this will truly benefit people, especially with dental access, which is a real deficit in this region.”

Executive Director Dave Edwards stated that the health center in Hood River “has continuously evolved to respond to the growing demands of whole-person health for nearly three decades, offering dental care, residency, population health, mental/behavioral health and substance abuse programs.

“While all the enhancements around types of care and access to care have been incredibly beneficial for its patients throughout the Columbia River Gorge, OCH has long outgrown its current physical and operational space,” he said.

The future facility will be located just east of the current Hood River site and on the same property, which has served as OCH’s Hood River home since 1991.

Romero said, “This really meets a need. It will provide the opportunity to provide excellent service, not only for the physicians for also for people with mental conditions in the community. There will be more space, for doctors and services,” said Romero, whose work puts him at the clinic some of the time, but mainly out in the field, helping community members develop healthier lifestyles.

Dr. Connie Serra thanked the board and staff “for making this dream come true.” She gave a rousing “top 10” list of reasons why she is happy a new facility is on its way, including a new lab, storage, furniture (“each of us gets our own desk”), massage room, counseling room, and triage room. She said the staff will no longer have to work in a space with heating and ventilation settings of “arctic freeze” and “tropical jungle.” To applause, Serra read her number one reason: “We no longer will have to hear people say, ‘you should see how much nicer it is in The Dalles clinic!’”

Scott Edwards Architecture, the same firm that designed OCH’s building in The Dalles, has drawn up the sketches for the Hood River replacement site. However, unlike the The Dalles facility, which was grant-funded by Health Resources and Services Administration, OCH’s new facility in Hood River is funded by a United States Department of Agriculture loan.

“This building will be unlike any community health center in the nation, and we’re looking forward to sharing exactly why that is at our groundbreaking and ribbon-cutting celebration,” Edwards said. “The planning and design behind this building has been several years in the making, and we’re thrilled to have the approval from our board of directors and the City of Hood River to officially move forward with the groundbreaking and construction.”

One Community Health (OCH) is a nonprofit, Federally Qualified Health Center with locations in The Dalles and Hood River. Formerly known as La Clínica del Cariño Family Health Care Center, Inc., it was founded in 1986 and has evolved into an official Patient-Centered Primary Care Home.

OCH currently provides services to more than 12,000 patients. Dedicated to advancing health and social justice for all its community members, OCH serves patients from the Mid-Columbia River Gorge Region: Wasco, Hood River, Klickitat and Skamania counties.

To donate or for more information, visit the OCH website at www.onecommunityhealth.org.



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