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Local medical agencies receive federal funding

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La Clinica, Community Health Center will use money to support mobile health center and telemedicine service Popular Today by John Darling  Posted: 2:00 AM July 16, 2011

La Clinica and Community Health Centers each have received a half-million-dollar federal grant that will fund a mobile health center for schools and a telemedicine service connecting Upper Rogue schools with physicians in town.

La Clinica got $456,890 to build an RV-sized medical-dental clinic that will provide free care for uninsured children, offering basic services such as health screenings, cold and flu treatment and diagnoses of heart problems and cancer, as well as dental fillings and sealants. Insured students will be billed.

CHC got $494,600 to create live telemedicine communication connecting students on campus in Butte Falls, Prospect and eventually Shady Cove and Trail with CHC physicians and nurses at the CHC White City clinic and at Eagle Point High School.

The one-time grants are from the federal Bureau of Primary Health Care and are dedicated to helping schoolchildren in remote areas.

The bureau awarded $95 million for the project nationwide.

“It’s just pretty phenomenal,” said CHC executive director Peg Crowley, who applied for the grant in partnership with similar clinics in Douglas and Coos Counties.

La Clinica already has five school-based clinics staffed daily and will survey the Medford, Phoenix-Talent, Central Point, Rogue River and Pinehurst school districts to find schools with greatest need for the mobile clinic, said La Clinica Outreach Director David Dismuke.

The 40-foot mobile clinic will be specially designed, then built in Portland, to be in operation by the end of the year. When school is out, it will serve the community as a whole, focusing on outlying areas, addiction, mental health and migrant-seasonal outreach, he adds.

“We’re targeting Title I schools at or below poverty level,” said Dismuke, noting that 18 percent of kids in the county are uninsured and 23 percent live in poverty, while half are eligible for free school lunches.

Telemedicine resembles a complex, hi-definition, wireless, interactive Skype and is satellite-supported, Crowley said. It can be connected when necessary to doctors at Oregon Health Sciences University in Portland. most of the usual exam-room procedures can be conducted, she says, including looking at wounds, checking vital signs, looking at an abscess inside the mouth and monitoring oxygen in the blood.

If it’s determined students need to see a doctor right away, they will be sent to the clinic, she said.

In a natural disaster, such as the recent fire that threatened to isolate Butte Falls, the system can connect to emergency rooms.

The system is planned to be available to the general Upper Rogue community, where many residents are challenged by low incomes and the inability to drive long distances for health care.

The area is especially challenged with mental health issues & suicides among youths, said Crowley, and in time, the system will be used for one-on-one counseling with mental health professionals.

“The system is needed,” she said, “because very rural areas are getting disproportionately low health care services. We’re very concerned about the increase in suicide in remote areas and we’re trying to make services available that don’t cost a fortune.”

John Darling is a freelance writer living in Ashland. Email him at .

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