Community health needs served as the forefront for a pair of Thursday, Sept. 26, meetings in both Lakeview and Christmas Valley.
A centerpiece of the Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP) project, residents from both ends of the county brainstormed what they perceived as the biggest needs in Lake County health care. The Lakeview meeting drew in close to 70 participants, while the North Lake meeting garnered about 40, which was right on par with the coordinators’ attendance goals.
Patrons brainstormed what they like and don’t like about existing health care services, and then developed ideas of what would make Lake County a healthier place to live. Further breaking things down beyond that, the multiple small groups then selected five priorities each in which they believed focus was needed.
At the end of the meetings, all in attendance had the chance to vote on the top five priorities overall from all those submitted by the varied small groups.
Justin Volley with the Office of Rural Health led the Lakeview meeting, while CHIP Coordinator John Adams led the North Lake meeting.
North Lake’s top five issues included opening up Oregon Health Plan enrollment to any provider, improving emergency medical technician (EMT) funding, dental access and care, pharmacy services and community health education.
The OHP enrollment issue pertains to current challenges with North Lake residents seeking medical services at St. Charles Medical Center in Bend. As Bend and Lake County each have different coordinated care organizations, OHP patients have access difficulties with regard to health care providers, Adams said.
Similarly, North Lake residents face challenges related to pharmacy services for those who do not utilize the North Lake health clinic, which features limited pharmacy services, Adams said.
Adams noted that the North Lake audience was very engaged in the meeting’s purpose.
“Everyone just seemed really enthusiastic about being there and being engaged (in the process),” he said.
Lakeview’s top five priorities included the need for a year-round fitness facility, assisted living, urgent care, better community support for the Lake County Senior Center and more dentists.
Adams noted that the meetings are not simply a one-stop idea center for identifying health care issues. Rather, a proactive approach to change is a key part of the process. The CHIP Community Advisory Committee (CAC) will next meet on Thursday, Oct. 17, to discuss the ideas presented by the community, and overlay the information over existing quantitative data.
Eventually, the goal will be to pare down to two or three issues by the November CHIP CAC meeting for serious pursuit.