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Happy Holidays to all Wampinrock Readers!

Another year almost in our rear view mirror!  I read something earlier today that talked about how the brain makes time seem like it is going faster, mainly because of stress, fatigue, and wear & tear!  That is definitely the winter season, when temperatures and holidays increase our stress and fatigue, and then just the mere fact that we are all getting older!  Nothing reminds me of this more repeatedly and sadly than this time of year.  Everything hurts more in the cold, and my heart hurts hurt more during the holidays.  So, if you are feeling like I am, grab a cup of coffee or hot tea or hot cocoa, put your feet up and take a few moments to yourself.  Just breathe, remember, mourn and keep them close to your heart!  Then finish your cup, roll up your sleeves and get INTO the day—do something, keep busy, go on!  That is what life is all about!

On a happier note, I would like to announce the Deschutes Rim Clinic Raffle winners!  The drawing was held on December 14th and we had hoped to have a very special guest, Santa, draw the winning tickets, but he got snowed in!  So, our staff had fun drawing the winners:

·         The ASUS tablet and docking station:   Jean Barlow

·         The Wine Cooler, glasses and 6 bottles of really special wines:   Donna Bachman

·         The Fantastic Exercise package, complete with weight bench and barbells, free weights, stair stepper, exercise ball, etc:   Jan Vinsonhaler

·         The Apple Sport watch:  Tom Markiewicz

·         The Jumping Mini-Drone:   Crystal Varisco

Congratulations to all the winners!  Enjoy your gifts or gifting them!

We will continue having these raffles periodically throughout the year.  So if you are interested in seeing what is next, stay tuned to this spring.  Read the Wampinrock, or watch Facebook, or our webpage!

Now, on to some serious notes: We have had some concerns expressed about our reminder call service.  We will be sending out a bulk mailing notice to everyone, but also wanted to take this time to say, ‘sorry for not personally telling you about this service’!  We weren’t sure how to let everyone know.  This is just a service that our new database offers which has worked well for many clinics across the nation to decrease no show appointments.  These No Show appointments cost us money, as does the time it takes for our small staff to find time every day to call our upcoming appointments.  If you do not wish to be called at all, please contact our office.  Then you will have the privilege of remembering your appointment—we don’t do well with a ‘some-do and some-don’t’ policy.  Sorry. 

We have had to make changes in the clinic which will hopefully save us money and time in the long run, and allow us more accurate reporting for insurances and accurate billing services.  We are a small staff and it is apparent that we will not be growing very fast, so we have to optimize our time by getting help to do our jobs. 

January 2017 is coming rapidly and with it will be many changes with new government, new insurance changes, and we will be presenting a NEW way to check in when you come in for an appointment!  It will be different—kinda exciting, and the staff will be ready to help you move through it as quickly as possible.  We are trying to integrate all those papers we need completed into an electronic format to make it somewhat easier for both you and us.  The information is required by insurances for continued payment.  For every person who comes in, those papers require almost an hour of staff time to enter into the computer, scan and file!  That is about $35/person which we do not get reimbursed to do.  By turning these into electronic files we can take that hour per person and use it for something more beneficial to you and us!

Also, in the New Year we will no longer have our old database—yea!  But that will mean we might still be trying to reconstruct some of the data you had given us before.  We are working on incorporating all your data into our new database, but it is time consuming, and with a staff of four it takes time.  We are working with a company to help us, which will start after the first of the year.  BUT, in the meantime, we ask your patience when we ask questions you have already answered and feel we should be remembering!  Eventually, it will all come together. 

We are taking this transition into our fully integrated database in stages so we don’t overtax our already overwhelmed brains!

Now, add the change to a new year and. . . I am not holding my breath that I will remember the month, let alone the year!

I have been working for the past two years to become a National Health Scholarship Corps Site (NHSC)as a recruiting tool for providers.  We have been awarded that participation, and they were here the other day for a site visit.  The NHSC guy came from Seattle and Maria Castro was the State representative; she also represents Migrant and Farm Workers for the Oregon Health Authority (the latest name for Oregon Health Plan if you haven’t seen that in the last couple years).  We have the capability to see non-english speaking clients here by using a phone interpreter, but she noted that there may be interpreters available by telemedicine now, which we are looking into. 

We are also researching resources to do sign-language interpreting for the deaf by telemedicine. 

We have been hosting WIC here at Deschutes Rim Clinic for the past year, and they will be going to once a month in the New Year!  We loan out our two exam rooms to them on that day.  They will also be adding a dental hygienist to see the kiddo’s in the New Year!

We are still trying to recruit a doctor who can help us continue to build our population of children clients and see all ages of patients.  It has been difficult to find anyone serious about wanting to move here.  They just don’t know what a wonderful community this is!  Thank you to all of you!

Happy New Year!


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Hello to all Wampinrock Readers!

January 2017 is here and we will be presenting a NEW way to check in when you come in for an appointment starting the end of January!   It will be fun, maybe a little challenging, but we have all been training to do it and help you!  Much easier than filling out those forms!

We are still trying to reconstruct our old database—but the slowness of our South Wasco County internet has made this quite a challenge.  Gary has spent over three days trying to get this information uploaded!  I am about ready to take a computer to The Dalles and find someplace to plug it in!  So, in the meantime, we ask your patience when we ask questions you have already answered and feel we should be remembering!  Eventually, it will all come together. 

We are able to see non-English speaking clients by using a phone interpreter, and we are working on getting telemedicine translators in place. 

WIC will be here at Deschutes Rim Clinic on February 9th.  Sorry about the January site visit, but the ice kept us all home.  They will be bringing their dental hygienist with them in February.    

We are still looking for about five (5) patients, parents or family of patients to become part of a Patient Advisory group.  This group will help us look at how we are doing as a clinic.  I foresee 1 or 2 in person meetings a year and then contact by email, portal, or webinar every 3 months over the year.  This will be as simple as answering a couple questions, or using a new piece of equipment or giving feedback on a new process.  It is your chance to actually participate in the function of your clinic!  If interested, please call or email me, (redacted)

We are also still trying to recruit a family practice doctor to move here and work with us.  We still want to work on building our population of children clients, see all ages of patients, continue behavioral health services and potentially bring other services to South Wasco County.  This is a wonderful community to live in and be a part of--thanks to all of you!

Many of you may have decided you cannot afford medical insurance this new year; if that is the case, we have a couple options for you:  1) discounts based on payment at time of service, and 2) a financial aid program which will help decrease the cost of the visits.  Just ask the front desk!

Now, if you need us, please call 541-395-2911 and we will be happy to see you!



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MARCH 2017

Hello Wampinrock Readers!  WE CARE!  ¡NOS IMPORTA!

For all those we have not already informed, Nina van Es, Nurse Practitioner, is no longer with us.  She felt it was time to do something different with her life and was going to leave at the end of February, but had an accident at home in January and ended up leaving early.  All her patients are being transferred to my patient panel, Sharon DeHart.  We are trying to work everyone in to be seen by me so I can catch up on what she was doing for you.  If you have not already been called, you will receive a call to schedule a lab and/or a med check appointment soon. 

We continue to look for one or two full time providers.  We need people who WANT to live in this wonderful community of South Wasco County.

I am also looking for an RN with Care Coordination and Population Health experience.  If you know of anyone, or you ARE one, and would be willing to talk about a part time position, please contact me.

We started the process toward building a larger facility so we can entice providers to come here, and have room for WIC and other specialties to see people here instead of always driving somewhere else.   We have been in our current building for almost twelve years now, and we have exhausted every inch of space.  To bring in other providers, I have to give up my patient space, including WIC, behavioral health, telemedicine, acupuncture, which requires that I work either at home or in a closet—OR take a day off! 

Yes, our acupuncturist completed his Pacific Crest Trail trek and is working on coming back to the clinic.  We do not have the grant any longer, and few insurances pay for acupuncture services, so he is working on alternative options.

I am always amazed when I hear, “we didn’t know there was a medical clinic down here” from people who just moved to South County.  Hey, our only ways of advertising are YOU, our Wampinrock readers, and word of mouth.  We still manage not to reach everyone.  So, all of you who live in South Wasco County need to do a better job of advertising for us!  You will be receiving a new flyer through bulk mailing of our services, as it is being mailed to all South County residents soon—please read it.  And remember to thank the Maupin Area Chamber of Commerce for their mailing contribution!  Thanks Christie and Selena! 

Our employees are all local and every person who goes somewhere else is taking dollars out of your community. 

Your Community encompasses a lot of territory—about 2/3 of Wasco County, over 750 square miles, multiple small unincorporated towns and lots of young and retired people. 

I have been asked why I am not “working” on Mondays.  Currently most of my “time off” is spent working on the administrative needs for your Health District.  I am back to not having any other providers to help and I have two full time jobs: being the only provider AND the manager of your Health District.

I sit on a board of medical providers, primary care and specialty, in Bend who oversees provider credentialing (the method of verifying the qualifications for medical providers) and insurance contracting.  Actually, I am the President-Elect and will be assuming the President role in July.  I have been on this Board for almost six years now, as this organization was incredibly helpful in helping us open this clinic—so this is where I am at least two Mondays a month and multiple early morning or evening meetings by phone. 

I keep staff in the office when I am gone to answer phones, take messages and refill requests and make appointments; they keep in touch with me and I continue to take call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week—even when I have to take care of my own parents several hours away. 

I used to sit on the CCO (Coordinated Care Organization) Health Council for the Columbia Gorge region, in which South County belongs.  About four months ago I gave up that seat, after four years, to increase my time here to care for our patients.

Besides seeing patients four days a week, I am using Monday’s to try and catch up on all the business of keeping your clinic operational and hours reviewing records and imaging reports and doing prescriptions.  My Monday’s are about 14 hours long.  I also see my patients who are in nursing homes in The Dalles, and often visiting patients in the hospital so I can talk to the hospital staff.  So, in other words, I am not out playing—I am only one person, but I try to have your back, and may often ask you to help me do that!  If I am relaxing—I am sleeping! 

NEWS FLASH!!  We are changing our website and have NEW email addresses.  The website should be up in the next couple months.  The emails are already active: (redacted).

We changed our medical database about three months ago and are slowly integrating various other programs to help us care for you and your health.  “Population health” has become quite a popular health term—maybe you have even heard about it.  

Population health has been defined as "the health outcomes of a group of individuals, including the distribution of such outcomes within the group". It is an approach to health that aims to improve the health of an entire human population.  It is a new approach to how your insurance pays us to see you!    

We are required by all insurances to concentrate on providing population health for all patients, ALL ages!  So, when you get calls for things we feel you need, it is because your insurance is requiring us to offer and order them.  These orders include vaccinations, colon cancer screenings, mammograms, wellness visits, among others.

We had slacked off over the Holidays on the required visits as we tried to implement our new database.  But, we are getting back on track and you will be hearing from us again about how often you need to be seen, have labs, etc. 

Deschutes Rim Clinic offers:

·         Full Primary Care and Prevention services

·         Chronic disease management and care coordination with all of your doctors

·         Immediate care/walk-in services

·         Financial aid assistance

·         Telemedicine

·         AND, Population Healthcare management

·         Lab services: some available on site, others are drawn and sent daily to a lab

·         Flu vaccines—yes, it is still flu season!

o   We have flu vaccines for adults and children even if you do not have insurance

·         Pneumonia vaccines—adults and children

·         Colon cancer screening tests which are non-invasive (covered by most insurances)

·         Mammograms are available as a screening for women over 40 even if no insurance

·         Wellness visits for adult and children

o   Medicare covers an annual PLANNING visit to set a schedule for the next year

o   Children should have a Well Child Check every 2-3 months until 3 years old and then yearly until the age of 21; we will include the Sports Physical, discuss your concerns and theirs as they continue to get older and can speak for themselves, and get vaccinations updated

We continue to have interpreter services for non-English speaking clients.  Seguimos teniendo servicios de intérprete para los clientes de hablantes no inglesa.

We continue to have multiple payment options if you do not have insurance, just ask us!   Seguimos teniendo opciones múltiples del pago si no tienes seguro, no dude en preguntarnos!   

WIC continues to be here but their schedule has changed; they will be back in April as they just had their February clinic.

Now, if you need us, please call 541-395-2911 and we will be happy to see you!   Ahora, si usted nos necesita, por favor llamada 541-395-2911 y es felices de verte!

Happy Spring!  It is around the corner!  



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April 2017

Looking out my window today at the blustery winds, rain, sunshine, and I thought I even heard some thunder—oh, and yes, a multi-second power outage that totally interrupted what I was doing—Spring is springing!  A couple more days and it will truly be here—am thinking it is blowing in like a Lion!

As I sit inside my window today, I am working on this article, preparing 4 budgets which are due in 2 weeks  (normally I would have only one due in three months), and keeping up on email conversations with Bend, Elgin and Portland!  Gary better not let the coffee pot go dry!

I want to keep you apprised of what we are doing for your community.  

We have recently reviewed and renewed our mission statement:

“We Care.  Our community based health center partners with you for your health and well-being, regardless of your ability to pay.”

Our Mission charges us with the health and well-being of all who live in and visit South Wasco County.  We need another family practice doc, PA or NP.  We are getting new patients every day and there is just not enough of me to go around.   After 11 ½ years of being the only regular provider, I am getting tired. 

We are working towards expanding the services we can provide and expanding hours, all of which require more providers and more space.  We are working with an organization, Westby Associates, who is helping us work toward that goal.  They will be contacting people and businesses around South Wasco County for interviews to ask what you wish to see in your health district.  Part of this expansion is the need for a new building to house everyone as we have totally outgrown our current building. 

Just want to give you a heads up!

We also need community members to volunteer in a couple different ways.

We are planning a Patient Advocacy Council and Tammarra will be getting in touch with several people to see if we can enlist your part time help.  This group will meet once or twice a year in person and then by email, phone calls or patient portal.  Our goal is to have this group help the District review products, services and even equipment the Clinic may need. 

The field of medicine is changing, not only with any federal changes, but also in how we care for people and how insurances pay us to care for people.  We need input from our community to help keep South Wasco County in front of the policy makers. 

I attend many policy-making meetings to assure the District qualifies for improved compensation for Clinic performance.  

I recently had to resign from the Health Council for the Columbia Gorge Coordinated Care Organization (CCO).  The CCO, PacificSource, is the insurance company charged with overseeing Oregon Health Plan patients in The Gorge and Central Oregon.  We need to have someone from South Wasco County to fill the position I vacated.  Without someone from South Wasco County on this Council you and your needs do not get heard—you basically become a lost voice.  Because we live in a rural area, your needs are different than those living in The Dalles, and without a representative from South Wasco County there isn’t anyone on this Council looking out for you.  You can attend meetings, once a month, in person or by phone. 

Also, the Community Advisory Panel, which is made up mostly of people ON PacificSource/Oregon Health plan, is looking for representation from South Wasco County.  This is the group who makes the requests to the Provider Panel and the Health Council for needed projects, grants, services.   The Community Advisory Council Membership (CAC) shall have no fewer than 8 and no more than 17 members selected by the Columbia Gorge CAC Selection Committee.  Consumers must represent 51% or more of total CAC membership.  There are two (2) types of membership:

·         Consumer Members

o   Any individual who is a resident of Hood River or Wasco Counties and has been a member of the Oregon Health Plan at any point in the last two years prior to applying to be a CAC member.  A legal guardian of a consumer who is a dependent child or adult, or a legal sponsor of an immigrant may also be considered a consumer member for purposes of CAC representation.  A person who is uninsured and regularly utilizes safety net health services such as community health clinics, hospital emergency rooms and mental health crisis response services may also be a member in this category.

o   As a group, consumer member of the CAC should reasonably represent the diversity of individuals being served by the CGHC.  Considerations should include but are not limited to: geographic area, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, socioeconomic class, age, physical ability and gender identity.

·         Community Members:

o   An individual who is 1) A community leader with specific skills in finance, auditing, legal work, international experience, information technology, diversity awareness, governmental affairs, public relations, marketing, or leadership development; 2) A formal representative of a community agency tasked with planning for Hood River and Wasco Counties population health needs, such as the local mental health and public health authorities, the local commission on children and families, the crisis response system, law enforcement and community corrections, housing agencies, and other social service agencies within the community; 3) A formal representative of a community organization that serves or advocates on behalf of community members enrolled in the Oregon Health Plan within Hood River and Wasco Counties.

We have applications for these community positions if you are interested; contact Deschutes Rim Clinic and leave your name and address and phone number. 

In the meantime, call us if you need us: 541-395-2911; check out our new website:

May 2017


Wampinrock, May 2017

The “We Care Campaign” is here! 

Deschutes Rim Clinic is here to serve the residents and visitors of South Wasco County.  We serve to provide the best care we can for everyone we see.   If you have been following my WamPinRock articles you have probably read about our expansion program in order to have a building which will accommodate more providers and services.  It is called the “We Care Campaign.”  People and businesses around South Wasco County will be contacted by Mike Wilson from Westby Associates to talk to you about what you want to see your health center provide for you. 

Join us on Saturday, May 20th, during Maupin Daze for a public Meet & Greet at the Legion Hall, downtown Maupin, 1:00pm to discuss our We Care Campaign, see the building design and meet with our legislators!

I moved here almost 12 years ago to start a medical clinic where there was none.  Those who have been here for that length of time can remember when no one else would do that.  It has been a steady uphill challenge as we have had to search out help from larger medical corporations who know how to do this—the voters who established the tax base in 2005 did not wish to have us associated with any one particular hospital or medical group.  We have been on our own, and have learned a lot about how NOT to do things and who can and cannot help us.   

So what have we brought to South Wasco County? 

·         We offer patient centered care, meaning the patient is in charge of the decisions they make for their health care; we try to work with each patient on an individual basis to design the care they need and desire;

·         We have diagnosed and helped care for many patients who did not know they had a heart problem—before they had a heart attack;

·         We have seen and treated many head injuries off the river;

·         We see people with sports-related injuries;

·         We care for many patients with severe health conditions who would otherwise have to travel frequently to other towns over an hour away to get medical care;

·         We coordinate care with specialists in Portland, Hood River, The Dalles, Madras, Redmond and Bend, and even some in other states;

·         We offer lab services (blood draws, urine checks, pregnancy tests, strep throat tests, colon cancer screenings) and interpretations to other tests;

·         We offer women’s health care with paps and pelvics;

·         We offer annual Medicare Wellness visits;

·         We offer pediatric care and wellness visits, incorporating sports physicals for school;

·         We offer vaccinations for children with and without insurance, and to adults with insurance or for cash;

·         We offer Commercial Driver License medical exams;

·         We participate with state and federal alternative payment programs;

·         We offer National Health Scholarship loan forgiveness and Oregon State loan forgiveness opportunities for most licensed health professionals;

·         We lease space to the local dentist for dental services;

·         We offer foot care for diabetics and visually impaired;

·         We offer respiratory treatments to keep people out of the emergency room or hospital;

·         We offer same day appointments and work-ins (as we can) on a daily basis;

·         We offer counseling services for smoking cessation, anxiety and depression, grief counseling, among other diagnoses;

·         We offer healthy living classes locally and are starting a weekly walking program In conjunction with a local mental health provider;

·         We offer home visits and hospice services for those who qualify;

·         We offer telemedicine services, which is currently being expanded to other specialties.

The primary reason we need a new building is to provide the space for at least two full time providers, room for part time providers, urgent care services and to encourage other specialty services to come out here. 

I have been the only full time provider AND the district manager for the past 11 years.  That is two, 2, full time jobs.  So, in essence I have been working for 22 years here now and I am hoping to continue working for a couple more years before retiring. 

We are still searching for primary care providers who will be willing to move here and become part of the community.  And, since we are not associated with any one particular hospital or medical group, we do not have anyone willing to help us find a provider—except recruiters who want a fee in the range of $12,000-20,000!   

I have spent the past two years getting approval for federal and state loan forgiveness programs, to help providers pay off their school loans.

We need more space and a bigger facility than our current cramped quarters to accommodate and to make it appealing to a new provider so that they will WANT to come here and work.  No one wants to work in a cramped, hectic office.

It will take the entire community to keep this clinic open and to recruit at least two docs, PA’s or family NPs.  We need people who are comfortable working in a rural area, who can see all ages for all things, are competent in their skills, and know when to and when not to refer.   I have a list of exciting ideas which some members of the community have told me they want, but I just cannot do them myself. 

Our goal is build a larger building with room for at least 2 full time providers, plus urgent care, full time counseling services, a state of the art dental suite, and a host of other specialty services.   In order to provide housing for part time providers and students we would rehab the current building into living quarters, space for physical therapy, storage, laundry and meetings. 

Remember to VOTE when you get your ballot in May!  We have three people running for our White River Health District Board.  Dennis Beechler and Jackie Pennington are running again, and Suzanne Knapp is asking for your support to replace Karletta Carrithers. 

We will sorely miss Karletta—she and Dennis have been with us since the beginning and her expertise has been of high value, but she is wanting to retire!  Fully, this time—not just her paid career!  Our June meeting will be her last one.  Karletta, we thank you for your dedication and assistance and all the time typing up minutes!  We love you and will miss your smiling face—but we will keep the coffee pot on!

I want to take this time to thank all my other very dedicated board members—they are our backbone.  Their steadfastness and dedication to our community is to be commendable!  Dennis Beechler, Brian Manning, Jackie Pennington, Sandi Chamberlain—Thank you!

I have been attending several insurance meetings lately and have learned something new today.  If you have PacificSource Medicare, Commercial or Medicaid (Community Solutions), you have access to a 24/7 RN Nurse line for trouble-shooting your medical issues: just call: 855-834-6150. 

You also have AFTER HOURS access for phone advice from us, 541-705-7610. 

You can call us, 541-395-2911, for appointments or to get information.  If we don’t know the answer to your question, we will research it and get back to you—including directions or road reports! 

Check out our new website:


June 2017


Good evening South Wasco County readers!

Well, our feasibility interviews are well under way for our We Care! building campaign.  We have had good support from legislators, community, county commissioners, business leaders for building a larger clinic to house more providers and other services. 

I testified in Salem last week, before the Joint Ways and Means Capital Construction Subcommittee and felt we were actually listened to; we will know one way or another around July 4th.   Our ask is of the lottery funds which are available for state distribution.  If we don’t get awarded this year (with funds to be dispersed in spring of 2019) then we will go back in February and do it again for the next session. 

For those who haven’t been keeping up with the news, we need a bigger clinic for space to house more providers, services, dental, behavioral health and urgent care services.  Since this clinic belongs to the taxpayers of South Wasco County, it is up to the citizens and businesses of South Wasco County to help make it happen.  I am just the mouthpiece and the one with the pen.  The interviews are being conducted by an independent third party, Michael Wilson of Westby Associates out of Vancouver, Washington.  His role is to determine community participation.  Without community participation the project will wither on the vine.

We are constantly getting requests to take new patients, and we have tried really hard not to turn anyone away.  But I need more help to do this.  I have been working 2 full time jobs for 11 years (that is the equivalent of 22 years), and I cannot give anymore of myself.  I need help!  We have help lined up but need somewhere for them to work.  We don’t have enough rooms, and no privacy, and our current building is not going to hold up to more people.  We are sitting on top of each other as it is. 

We will continue to have some fund raisers but those are not enough to secure the funding to build a new clinic.  We will be looking at grants and foundations for assistance, but we will need to have our request for state funds granted in order to do that.    

So, please be aware that you may be called to interview, if you have not already done so.  Hopefully you will be able to participate in the funding challenge as every dollar helps get us closer to our goal.  

On another note, we have lost some long-time residents, again, too soon!  Have you ever thought about how or what you want to happen at the end of your life?  Whether it is prolonged or sudden?  Have you made any decisions?  Do you have an advanced directive?  This document lines out your wishes and allows you to pick someone you trust to be your voice should you not be able to speak.  It also allows you to decide whether or not you want CPR if you are dead.  Did you know that you only need CPR if you are dead?  You are dead if you are not breathing and do not have a pulse.  It only takes 6 minutes without circulation of oxygen for the brain to die.  Many of us who live or work by ourselves, or live a long way out, may be gone before rescuers can even get to us.  Do you want others to make decisions for you?  If not, talk with your families, make your wishes known; complete an advanced directive to document your wishes.  But, please understand, the Advanced Directive is NOT a legal document.  The legal document is called a POLST (Physician or provider orders for life sustaining treatment).  This must be completed by your medical provider.  This is a hot pink form mounted in a visible area of your home, like the refrigerator front, so that all emergency personnel can easily find it.  This is the only legal document they can use. 

It is difficult to make end of life decisions for one of your family members, yet many of us have had to do this.  Wouldn’t you like to protect your family from having to make yours?

                Summer is upon us—so are fishing injuries, river accidents, sun and heat exposure.  Remember to play safely, drink plenty of fluids to keep yourself hydrated, and remember how to reach us if you need us: 541-395-2911. 

                After hours advise line: 541-705-7610. 

                Also, please remember to give us plenty of time to refill your medications, if you notice you have about a week left, that is the best time to call it in, that way you are not needing refills when I am not available. 


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Oak Springs Fire, June 24, 2017


July 2017

Wampinrock, July 2017

Dear South County Residents and readers!  I need to get something off my chest. . .

There are rumors that we don’t need a new medical building here in South Wasco County, that we don’t need more providers; why change when the old was “just fine?”  Well, let me tell you why.

I will not be able to continue working forever.  I have maybe 2-3 years before I will no longer be able to work.

If we do not get more providers here and I have to leave you will be without ANY medical services in South Wasco County, except the ambulance services which do not have enough personnel to go around, AND you would be driving or being transported to an emergency room—not a medical clinic.  Ambulances are required by law to go to the closest emergency room.  If it is not deemed a life threatening emergency, then you can go by private vehicle wherever you would like to go.

When this Health District was envisioned by several very FAR thinking people, looking to the future of South Wasco County, it was made very clear to them by those of you who are South Wasco County taxpayers that you did not want the Health District or medical clinic to be associated with any one particular hospital or medical group.  Well, that has kind of bit us in the butt, because now we have no one looking out for us or helping us when we need help.  We are on our own!  There were even several threats given to the THEN board of no support for the tax base if it was put in at the $0.75/$1000—which by the way, is the LOWEST health district tax base in Oregon!  So… it was changed to $0.25/$1000 which is not enough to even open the door.  The Wasco County tax clerk has emphatically, over and over, told us that this is a PERMANENT tax and can never be changed unless we cease and desist and start all over.  To start all over will cost us between $50,000-100,000!  We do not have that kind of money. This is ALSO why we have an OPTION TAX LEVY for $0.50/$1000 every 5 years—to make up the difference so we can pay for operational expenses that go with operating a medical clinic.  This comes due in 2018.  Your taxes do not pay for employees, or the benefits they need, or any of the other things we try to provide.  Your taxes pay for the building and keeping the lights on.   

Do you like getting a paycheck from your local job?  Do you realize that many of your local jobs depend on a medical clinic in the area in order for them to operate? 

Do you realize that public grants and benefits also require a town to provide medical services?

Are you using the medical clinic?  If not, you are not really supporting it, as your taxes are not sufficient to pay for even one medical provider.

Change is never easy, but it is inevitable.  The world changes daily.  That is evolution.  It is sometimes the hardest work we have to do.  Just ask anyone who has tried to make a behavior change, such as stopping smoking or lose weight.  It involves fear of the unknown and taking giant steps, sometimes off a cliff.  That is what I did when I moved here!  There was nothing in the plans for this clinic that were safe.  Many providers turned it down.  I won’t say that I am not afraid of change, but I will NOT be controlled by my fears.  I needed to change my life and felt this project was something that needed to be done.  I have not ever been one to not step up to the plate and get a job done when it was needed. 


It was obvious, when we did Bob Ashley’s tribute that he and the rest of that original board had a passion and did not let fear or pain or threats stop them from pursuing their dream.  They were visionaries; they started the path toward getting a senior housing facility and medical clinic where there were none. 

Now, I cannot defend nor extol the virtues of the senior living facility, but I can about the clinic.  The building which was delivered when I signed my contract with White River Health District was NOT the building hoped for or ordered by the original board.  It was not set up for a medical and dental clinic; it had to be remodeled before we could even open.  There are many problems with the building, let alone increased costs because of contractual errors that were started long before I arrived.  Through my efforts we have paid off the oldest loan for the building and are quickly paying down the excess charges due to those contractual problems.    

When we started we hardly saw anyone—I had time to plant shrubs, mow lawns, make phone calls and home visits.  Then we became the go-to place for anyone living or visiting here who did not have anywhere else to go.  Our visits have increased from about 400/year to over 2600/year, with new patients requesting admittance every day.  I now work 12+ hour days, often 7 days a week as I also manage the health district.  Now I make phone calls late at night or have staff make them, and have to schedule out of office visits weeks in advance or after hours.  We are open Monday through Friday, 9am to 6pm, unless I cannot be here.  Another reason to have more providers—to provide coverage when I need to be gone.

My husband is now paid to mow the lawns and keep down the fire danger.  I do not see anyone from the community helping to keep up the grounds or volunteering to help with other jobs we have.  We tried several times to enlist community organizations or volunteers or area landscapers but were turned down by all!

This area needs an urgent care—the closest urgent care is either Gresham or Redmond.  We see a lot of immediate care and walk-ins, but we are not really equipped to do that as we do not have enough providers or rooms.  We do not have a procedure room.  To be an urgent care we need extra space, extra staff, x-ray and other equipment.  We MUST have a new building to provide those. 

 We have three to four people working in the same room, so phone conversations are difficult.  The current building is unable to provide any privacy since it is a modular unit with 2-inch fire gaps under each door and paper thin walls.  We have installed music (which I pay for) to cover voices the best we can. 

There are state and federal guidelines which govern what services may be provided by an Urgent Care versus an Emergency Room—we will NEVER be an emergency room.  If a patient requires an ambulance, he/she needs to go to the closest emergency room with all the equipment and services to attend to that patient within minutes to hours of their arrival.  We cannot do that. 

We are a Primary Care Clinic—not an emergency room! 

This has never been MY clinic, but I treat it as such, because I believe in it and because I made a promise to the tax payors of South Wasco County.  But I cannot continue to be the only provider in a substandard building where there is no room to bring anyone in to help.  We have now hired two part time medical providers who will slowly over the next year increase their hours here and decrease my time.

My goal before I die is to build on the vision of that original Board of Directors with a new building on the ground that already belongs to the Health District and CANNOT be used for anything else by County designation.  There is plenty of room to build a new building here, and to put in an official helipad (designed by those who provide air life services!) so that new providers will want to come here and live and work.  The purpose to a new building is to ensure quality medical services for the next 20-plus years.  Our current building does not have that life span, nor is it feasible to build onto a substandard modular unit.

Many providers are not able to move here, which means we need to pay more for them to drive or provide housing for them.  The only people who have stepped up to the plate to offer housing in the past have been Judy and Carrol White—and while I thank them immensely, the District cannot continue to afford $6000 annually for one or two nights a week!  Chris and Crystal have offered a more affordable housing rate for a student I have coming later this summer, but this also is not a long term solution.  We are going to need to provide our own housing for part time providers and medical students, so that they will be able to come here and see what it is like to live and work in a great progressive rural area.  My plans include rehabbing our current building to allow it as long a life as possible. 

As far as who can be seen here, we accept those who don’t have insurance, but highly request they at least pay for the medical visit on a sliding scale or a special rate.  If they are unable to pay anything we will offer advice or a courtesy appointment, depending on the needs.  If they cannot pay, your tax dollars may need to cover that fee!

We are constantly being asked if we accept a specific insurance.  We accept and bill ALL insurances, but we may not be In-Network for a specific insurance as it does not pay to do this for few people.  Being In-Network means that you have a lower co-pay and often more covered services, but it also means that we accept a lower payment for your care.  We are In-Network with most major insurances, but we cannot contract with many of these Healthcare Exchange insurances. 

Also, billing your insurance does not guarantee a payment.  Each patient is responsible for paying for their own services, not their insurance.  We write off several thousand dollars a month due to contracts we have with your insurance company in order for you to have that low copay!  We also have to send some patient accounts to collections when people will not set up a payment plan or default on that plan.  We are a business and cannot carry long term unpaid accounts.  Your taxes do not sufficient to cover these unpaid accounts!

I am hoping that this helps some people understand why certain decisions have been made.

If you need more information or just plain need to get something off your chest, I would request that you contact me instead of the rumor mill.

I can be reached pretty much 24/7, by either phone or email: 541-705-7610 or (redacted).

The Board and I have tried to be very transparent in our decisions and discussions, but when those who have concerns use the rumor mill instead of attending our open board meetings or even talking with one of us, it is hard to take you seriously.  We make ourselves available; won’t you make yourself available to us?

With respect, Sharon


August 2017

Wampinrock, August 2017

Hello South Wasco County Readers!

We have exciting news!  Thanks to Senator Ted Ferrioli and Representative John Huffman for their support and all of Rep Huffman’s work on our behalf, our ask of the State Legislature is in the process of being fulfilled!  Rep Huffman made the trip to Maupin very early on a Saturday morning to review the project site and meet our Board and staff.  Our efforts were made much more effective by his attention to legislative detail. 

We have been awarded $1 Million dollars from the State legislature towards our $2.5 Million We Care! Building Campaign!  This is about half the money we will need for the building, with the remainder coming from grants and private donations.  This means my work, and that of some very dedicated volunteers, is just starting!   A new building for expanded services at Deschutes Rim Clinic is definitely in our foreseeable future.   

Our Capital Campaign Committee will be having our Kick Off Meeting on Wednesday, September 20th, 6:30-8:30pm.  Please stay tuned for location. 

A huge THANK YOU to those who have participated in our third-party interviews and promised pledges to the Campaign.  But we need to build those pledges, so our interviews will continue for a few more months.  PLEASE say ‘yes’ when Westby Associates calls to talk to you. 

If you have not participated in the interviews and would like to do so, or would like to donate towards the campaign, please contact us.  Checks may be made out to Deschutes Rim Clinic Foundation, which is a 501(3)c and are tax deductible. 

Now, on to ECLIPSE DAY, August 21st, 2017.  We are expecting several hundred thousand visitors to our area starting the week before and extending to who knows when.  Some key things to keep in mind:

·         Make sure you have sufficient medications, groceries, extra water, cars fueled PRIOR to the weekend of August 19th to get through the following week without traveling;

·         Keep some cash on hand as the ONLY ATM in our area may run out of money;

·         EMS and fire crews may have limited ability to respond, so if you do not have a life threatening emergency you will not need an ambulance, please come up to the clinic:

·         DESCHUTES RIM CLINIC WILL MAINTAIN OFFICE HOURS THROUGH THE WEEKEND OF August 19-20, 9-9pm in addition to our regular Monday-Friday, 9-6pm; we will also be on call after hours at 541-705-7610.  Residents who know where we are please direct people to us.   

·          Protect your eyes by buying special Eclipse-viewing glasses to block the harmful rays from burning your eyes; your regular sunglasses will NOT protect your eyes from the sun!  Any glasses you buy must meet the ISO 12312-2 international standard. 

·         Visitors coming from other countries may not be vaccinated so make sure you are!

·         If you do not want people parking on your private land, post it with “No Trespassing” signs;

·         If cell services are overwhelmed, make sure you have a back-up communication plan with your family;

·         Prepare to defend your home space against fire and help educate visitors as to fire safety in our home.

August also brings the Wasco County Fair, starting the end of the week after Eclipse Day, August 24-27th.  Deschutes Rim Clinic will once again be at the Fair on Senior Day, Opening Day, August 24th from 10-2pm taking blood pressures and glucose readings for anyone interested.  We will be set up over by the Senior picnic under the trees.  The clinic will be closed that day so that staff will be able to attend the fair once we close our stand. 

Deschutes Rim Clinic is looking for volunteers to be on our Patient Advisory Council.  We need parents of school aged children.  We have sent out several letters but have not received any phone calls.  This is YOUR chance to comment on what we do at Deschutes Rim Clinic.  If you are interested, please contact us at 541-395-2911.  We are hoping to have our first meeting sometime in August.  I need to get through July first before planning the exact date and location.  We will be contacting people by phone once the date is set. 

Remember, if you do not have insurance or have high deductibles, we will be having a low cost screening lab day in late September.  This is a first come, first served, cash only opportunity with significant discount to get any blood work you need done.  Please contact the clinic for further information or to get your name on a call list so we can contact you when the date is set.  We will advertise it on our webpage and Facebook page.

So, with the potential for lots of extra people in our home this August, please plan ahead and be prepared. 

As always, call us if you need us, Deschutes Rim Clinic, 541-395-2911. 



September 2017


Wampinrock, September 2017

Hello South Wasco County Readers!

We aren’t even through Eclipse weekend and it is time for the September article to be written.  So far, at the northern edge of the Eclipse band, it has been a fairly quiet weekend.  But the crunch is supposed to hit tomorrow!  I am manning the clinic this weekend, with the help of Adam Stapleton, a PA student from Pacific University in Hillsboro, as we are keeping the clinic open through this entire weekend.  We were able to see several people, locals and visitors, on Saturday, but Sunday has been pretty quiet. 

Unfortunately, we will not be able to continue with weekend hours every week as I do not currently have a provider able to work Saturday; BUT, we are looking to review it again late next spring, once I have more providers.  If you are interested in having us open on Saturdays, please check out our Facebook page for the survey.  We need to see how many people would be interested AND what hours you think you would use the clinic.  Our newly forming Patient Advisory Committee will also be tackling this problem and their first task will be to survey their family and friends.

We are also still looking for parents of school aged children who would be willing to participate in our Patient Advisory Council.  Want to know more?  Contact Tammarra Ferguson at the clinic.

As for who is Adam?  If you have been in the clinic in the last two weeks you probably met him; he will be with us for four more weeks, then off to his next rotation.  He is from North Carolina, but has family in Bend.  He and his wife are living in the Portland area while he finishes school at Pacific University over the next year.  He does not yet know what he wants to practice or where.  We are working on him. 

By the time this goes to print we will also have completed the Wasco County Fair, which is ALSO this week!  Fun times by all!

So, now to the crux of current issues regarding our need for a new medical building.

We need the community’s support, financial pledges as well as in-kind donations for services and supplies to add to the State’s contribution of One Million Dollars.  There is no donation too small, as we need to raise at least $500,000 dollars.  We will be applying for charitable grants as well.  Some of our community has already indicated pledges and we will be coming around in the next couple months to get those pledges signed.  Our plan is to have local fund raising events over the next year well.

We want to have x-ray in the new building and a bedside ultrasound machine which will cost us in the neighborhood of $200,000, and then to train someone to use them.  We also want to provide the most up to date dental imaging, which is another $100,000.  Nothing in medicine is inexpensive, especially when you consider that insurances never pay the full bill for services rendered.  If we want to have quality providers here to care for us, we need to make sure we have a quality facility in which they can practice.

We plan to sell special “tiles” but different than what the library sold, so we are not competing with them.  We will also have a naming program where someone can “buy” a room for a specific price. 

You could even name the building if you want to donate $500,000!

We want to have a memorial garden but will need a Master Gardner who would be willing to take on the care of it, like they do the Veterans Memorial Garden.     

The new clinic will be large enough to handle two full time providers, dental, and who knows what other specialties we might be able to entice down here to see patients once we have space for them. 

We will be having special community events over the next several months to help introduce you to our project and ask for your participation.  Stay tuned. 

As always, if you need us, call us, 541-395-2911. 




October 2017


Wampinrock, October 2017

Hello South Wasco County Readers!

I am going to spend this month’s article talking about our need for community participation, both financially and personally, toward our Fund Raising for the new medical building.

There has been some concern that we do not need a new building.  I, who work in it daily, disagree.  The current building was not built according to the ordered specifications nor can we do anything about it.  We tried.  It cost us almost $200,000 to find out we had no ability to have the builder fix the problems. 

We are out of space and the building is not capable of being added onto and meet code requirements.  It is not insulated well, the floors are buckling, the walls are cracking.  We have already replaced all the windows and the entire heating and cooling system to decrease our electrical costs, but it was not enough.  There isn’t enough storage space nor any space to add more providers for more services. 

Currently, if we bring in specialty services (such as WIC who is using our clinic once a month), that means we do not have any exam rooms on that day.  If I have another provider working, I cannot work, as there is not enough space.  In order to increase our telemedicine services or bring in specialty providers, we need someplace for them to work. 

We feel South Wasco County deserves a bigger and more functional facility which could house more than one provider and more services. 

Therefore, YES, we DO need a new building.  I have two providers who are willing to work more hours and see more patients, but we need space for them to work.

I have been working 24/7 for the past 10 years, which is the equivalent of a 20 year career just here in South Wasco County.  It is time for new providers to take my place.  I have a plan to slowly phase out of full time work over the next three years. 

So, we have two serious issues we need your help with!

One, the health district belongs to the tax payers of South Wasco County, and to keep with the mandate to not be integrated with any one particular hospital or medical group as per the voters who voted to set up the District, the onus to keep the clinic open and the lights on is on the tax payers (including myself) of South Wasco County. 

Two, we, the South Wasco community, must raise a minimum of $500,000 in order to apply for the grants and other funding to build this building.  We are about $300,000 shy of our goal.  We NEED your help to meet this goal!  I have mailed out letters to many people and businesses who have not participated in our feasibility study, and will be looking at other creative ways to raise this money.  I would love to hear your ideas, so please contact me via email, (redacted) or at the clinic, 541-395-2911. 

We are collecting coins and have a Coin Jar in the clinic, “Your Change for Our Change”, so when you come in, please bring your change with you! 

Jar and I will be at the Tygh Valley Fall Festival at the Wasco County Fairgrounds on October 14th with this jar.  We welcome any and all donations.  I will also be at most of the Holiday Bazaars this year.  

AND, we will be having our first big fund raiser, Celebrate Service! on November 11, Veterans Day, a full sit-down Prime Rib Dinner and an evening of fun, entertainment and fund raising at the Wamic Community Center.  Dinner will be served about 6:30pm, but doors will be open about 5pm so you can participate in our silent auction.  We will be presenting community awards as well as having an oral auction.  Our goal is to make this an annual event around Veterans Day.  Tickets for the dinner and evening are $30 each or 2 for $50 and are available at the Clinic or from committee members.  Our goal is to sell 100 dinner tickets!  Come get your tickets before they sell out!  Remember to bring your checkbook for the Fund Raising!

We are also planning a different fund raising event in May, on the evening of Maupin Daze; stay tuned for details. 

We would LOVE to have donations from out of the area, so if you know people who would like to come to dinner, or chip in on our building event, please do not hesitate to ask them to contact us for details.  No donation is too big or too small; you can mail checks to: Deschutes Rim Clinic Foundation, PO Box 219, Maupin, OR 97037-0219.  You will receive a letter of recognition and tax donation statement from the Foundation, which is a 501(3)c organization!   

So, now on to health issues:

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month!  Ladies, have you had your mammogram in the last year?  If not, please contact us to get an order, or find out if you need one. 

Flu vaccines are here!  We will be giving flu vaccines any day, you are welcome to walk in, but if you do not want to wait behind scheduled patients, call us for the best appointment time. 

And, if you are 65 and over, did you get your pneumonia vaccine?

Kids, if you are not up to date on your childhood vaccinations you need to be talking to your parents to have them bring you in for your vaccinations.  We give this at Well Child Checks and there a lot of you living here in South Wasco County who are not seeing a doctor for these regular check-ups.  We are here for you—and I promise, the shots do not hurt as much as you may think they do.  Have your folks call and talk to us about why you need these visits.  Dr. Judy Richardson, Lisa Nevara and I are all available to help you stay well. 

On that vaccination note, did you know that the HPV virus causes CANCER?  Did you know that we have a vaccine for young people to protect them from getting a specific cancer in their 30’s and later?  The HPV vaccine is for young men and women between the ages of 11-17 years to prevent cervical cancer caused by this virus.  Currently less than a third of young women are protected, and significantly less than that of young men.  Both can get this virus and transmit it to the other.  Parents and young people, contact us on how to prevent this CANCER—541-395-2911!

Till next month!



November 2017

Wampinrock, November 2017

Hello South Wasco County Readers!

We are actively fund raising towards a new building for our medical clinic, in case this is the first issue of the Wampinrock you have read.  For those faithful readers, please forgive me as I set a little ground work again. 

There has been some concern that we do not need a new building.  I, who work in it daily, disagree.  The current building was not built according to the ordered specifications nor can we do anything about it.  We tried.  It cost us almost $200,000 to find out we had no ability to have the builder fix the problems. 

We are out of space and the building is not capable of being added onto and meet code requirements.  It is not insulated well, the floors are buckling, the walls are cracking.  We have already replaced all the windows and the entire heating and cooling system to decrease our electrical costs, but it was not enough.  There isn’t enough storage space nor any space to add more providers for more services. 

Currently, if we bring in specialty services (such as WIC who is using our clinic once a month), that means we do not have any exam rooms on that day.  If I have another provider working, I cannot work, as there is not enough space.  In order to increase our telemedicine services or bring in specialty providers, we need someplace for them to work. 

We feel South Wasco County deserves a bigger and more functional facility which could house more than one provider and more services. 

Therefore, YES, we DO need a new building.  I am planning on retiring in the near future and we have new providers who need more space to work for our ever-increasing number of new patients.

We NEED your help to meet this goal! 

By the time you read this we will have sold out our Prime Rib Dinner tickets!  Sorry if you did not get one, but we were limited by seating.  This fund raising campaign is just the first of many for us, so you will have other chances to participate in our Celebrate Service! events as they will be an annual fall event with varying venue and theme.  This year it is a patriotic theme, seeing as how it is on Veteran’s Day (thank you to Pastor Jim for our venue).  We will be awarding several community awards as well as a silent and oral auction.  Stay tuned to the December Wampinrock for a review of this event. 

If you are really in the mood for great prime rib stay tuned, as South Wasco County PTO (Parent Teacher Organization) will be holding another Bloomin’ Beef Dinner and Auction on April 28th at the Wasco County Fairgrouds!  If you missed it last year, I recommend getting your tickets early this year as it was a BLAST!  Great food, great auctioneers and entertainment, and OMG the desserts were phenomenal!!  I am STILL amazed that they served prime rib to over 300 people in less than 30 minutes!  Sandy and Sam Cobb of Molly B’s, and their staff, did an outstanding job with the food.

Our next event will be a RockOn! Concert in the evening of Maupin Daze, May 19th.  Want to participate?  Call us!

I participated in the Tygh Valley Fall Festival at the Wasco County Fairgrounds, on a cold but sunny day, selling a few items as well as dinner tickets and starting a raffle for a full-sized quilt.  A cold but good time was had by all!  We are continuing our fund raising with the raffle; see the quilt at the clinic soon.  It will be hung on the wall.  I will also be at some of the upcoming Holiday Bazaars this fall. 



If you are interested in participating in our fund raising, as a tax write off benefit to you, please contact us.  No donation is too big or too small; you can mail checks to: Deschutes Rim Clinic Foundation, PO Box 219, Maupin, OR 97037-0219.  You will receive a letter of recognition and tax donation statement from the Deschutes Rim Clinic Foundation, which is a 501(3)c organization!   We need your help to reach our goal. 



Sorry, but December 2017 and January 2018 are lost to the breezes!


February 2018

February 2018

Dear South Wasco County Readers,

White River Health District, which is the operating fund for Deschutes Rim clinic, has an Option Tax Levy which will expire in spring of 2019.  This tax levy provides for the operational expenses for Deschutes Rim Clinic.  Our current permanent tax base if $0.25/$1,000 as long as we continue to be tax district.  Our current option tax levy is for $0.50/$1,000 to get us up to the lowest tax base for a health district, which is $0.75/$1,000. 

All of our cost of living is increasing, including the expenses for the operation of the clinic.   We need to increase that Option Tax Levy to $0.75/$1,000 instead of $0.50.  We need to renew that Tax Levy on the upcoming May ballot, 2018.  

The Clinic needs your support of this tax increase, and I understand this comes at a time when we have no idea how our federal tax bill is going to affect us, but without this increase we will have to continue to cut hours and staff to keep our operating costs down.  Our personnel costs are in excess of 50% , supplies about 35%,   look at audit graph

We have a quilt on sale at the clinic; it is a full or double size, beautiful quilting pattern, teal and coral colors.  Tickets are on sale at the clinic:  $3 each or 2/$5.  You can see a picture of this quilt on our facebook page. 

Our next fund raising event for the new building will be later this spring, but we are looking for a new committee as many had to drop out before our last event.  We need people who can help us talk to potential sponsors as well as people to help plan and organize it.  We are working on some variations of our original plan for a concert in the clinic parking lot due to logistics. 

Remember, we still accept new patients, and accept most insurances.  If you have PacificSource Community Solutions (OHP) you need to be seen by the clinic to which you are assigned at least once a year.  Please review your card and call to make an appointment—don’t wait until it is an emergency.  The emergency room is NOT the place to get your blood pressure pills refilled or where to go if you have a cold or sinus infection, or even when you fall and twist your ankle!  That is OUR job—please help us help you.  Call us!  541-395-2911.  We do have immediate care/walk in service available.  Depending on the situation, you may not go to the head of the line, but we will work you in. 

And it is not too late to get your flu and pneumonia vaccines.  It is that time of year.  Speaking from experience as I lost ten days to this nasty infection, and I DID get my flu vaccine, but at least I did not end up in the hospital.  Vaccines take at least two weeks before they start being protective, so the longer you wait, you may be too sick to get the vaccine.  You can also get these at your or any pharmacy.  And the medication for the “flu” must be given within the first 48 hours.  Not much time to realize you are even that sick. 


March 2018

March 2018

Hello! South Wasco County Readers!

When you read this I will be just getting home after my first real vacation in over ten years.  I hope you all fared as well as I hoped you would.  I was finally able to secure other providers to cover most days and someone to cover call while I was gone.    

Now, to the crux of the matter; our Local Option Tax Levy, which was last voted into place in 2013, expires this year.  We will have a request on the May 2018 ballot for a new one to be approved by you.   Currently our permanent tax rate is 25-cents per $1000 and it cannot be changed.  Our current Local Option Tax Levy is 50-cents per $1000 but is leaving us with a $30,000-60,000 deficit each year.  We would like to ask for 75-cents per $1000.  This would bring in about $50-70,000 more for operational expenses.   This increase of 75-cents per $1000 will allow us to continue to operate with full services, more than one provider, five days a week of expanded hours from 9-6pm, and coordinate with other specialties. 

Your taxes pay for the Clinic’s general operational expenses, which include personnel, materials and supplies.  As you all know from your own expenses, all costs for everything continue to increase every year.  Management has tried to keep the Clinic’s expenses fairly flat and have only increased personnel costs by about 16% over the past five years, even with pay raises and the addition of two new part time providers.  The clinic still maintains a full time crew of five, all hired and trained from the local area.  Materials and services have increased about 11% over the past five years. We still intend to continue to contain costs while providing local employment and local medical services to the South Wasco community. 

The District’s ONLY way to increase revenue is to see more patients.  One provider cannot do this.  Nor can one provider continue to work 12-15 hours a day.  New patients are establishing weekly, which requires more providers care for these increased numbers.

As many of you already know, the District is in the process of building a new much larger medical building that will be last 20-30 years or more.  It will be sufficient to house more exam rooms for more than one provider and multiple specialties, a larger lab and waiting room, a larger procedure room with x-ray and a new dental clinic.  Long range plans are to hire another provider who will be willing to move to this area and then expand our hours to include evenings and weekend.  We have received a grant from the State of Oregon and many donations and pledges toward this building, and we are now applying for foundational and grant assistance.  This building is being built under the auspices of the Deschutes Rim Clinic Foundation, which was established in memory of Deanna McDowell, a longtime supporter of the Clinic.  We have hired Pinnacle Architecture out of Bend to work up the plans and the details for this new building.  Previous projected plans are being re-evaluated for the most cost effective way to build the building.  It is exciting!  Even the staff is getting excited now that they have been able to design and see what their respective spaces will look like. 

We need more community members to participate in a Patient and Family Advisory Council to help us pick out colors, furniture, etc.  This Council will reconvene meeting in April and will meet at least once a quarter.  This group is the one that is involved in planning our annual fund raiser, Celebrate Service! in November. This is YOUR chance to have a say in what you would like to see in your medical clinic.  If you would be interested in doing this, please contact the clinic at 541-395-2911 and leave your name and contact number.

Our next Celebrate Service! event is planned for Saturday, November 3rd and will be held at the Wamic Grange so that we can host a larger group.  We maxed out the Wamic Community Center this last year.  We are also trying to plan a fun event for this summer. 

But, right now, this has been a very bad year for viruses, many are influenza-related, and not all these viruses are in your flu vaccine.  But getting a flu and pneumonia vaccine can help you not get as ill, as the vaccine boosts your immune system to fight some of these viruses better.  Call the clinic if you think you have flu symptoms as we can give you tips on how to best weather it.  Viruses have to run their course; antibiotics do not get rid of viruses.  We have to treat the symptoms to allow us to weather the coarse better. 

If you are short of breath or having difficulty getting a breath you may need to be seen in the emergency room, but call us and we can help you determine that. 

We can be reached at 541-395-2911 and there is an after-hours number to call on the answering machine.

So, get involved!  And, stay healthy! 



 April 2018

April 2018

Hello South Wasco County Voters!  White River Health District needs your votes for Deschutes Rim Clinic!

It seems that no matter how many times over the past 11 years I have told people the reason for the Option Tax Levy is because we are the lowest taxed health district in the State and we cannot change that without closing the clinic and starting all over, to the tune of about $30,000 plus!  I have much better uses for that money—paying staff. 

Our Local Option Tax Levy, which was last voted into place in 2013, will be on the May ballot. 

We need your YES votes if we are to stay open.   

Our permanent tax rate is 25-cents per $1000 and it cannot be changed.  Our current Local Option Tax Levy is 50-cents per $1000 but is leaving us with a $30,000-60,000 deficit each year—I had to personally guarantee a loan last year to keep us open.  We need to ask for 75-cents per $1000.  This would bring in about $50-70,000 more for operational expenses.   This increase to 75-cents per $1000 will allow us to continue to operate with full services, continue to have more than one provider, continue five days a week of expanded hours from 9-6pm, and coordinate with other specialties. 

This Option Tax Levy is NOT going towards the new building. 

It is truly to maintain a full time crew of five, (all hired and trained from the local area), pay the providers who are driving out here from The Dalles, and the utilities and materials used to care for you.  You probably don’t realize we pay over $12,000 a year just to have phone and internet service and keep the lights on!  Without this Option Tax Levy, hours, services and jobs will need to be decreased.  I am hoping you do not want to see this happen.

The District’s ONLY way to increase revenue is to see more patients.  This requires more providers as I can no longer do this by myself.  Nor can one provider work 12-15 hours a day, 6-7 days a week. 

Ever wonder why you don’t see me out at various functions in the community?  Because I am home continuing to do the background work that each patient needs—work for which I cannot bill any insurance.  Work that my 8-10 hour per day staff cannot do.  Hours for which I do not get paid as I am on salary.  

I have put my life on the line to keep this clinic open and to ensure that it will continue to be here for the next 30 plus years!  But I cannot do it without your help!  Please vote YES on the May ballot for White River Health District to keep Deschutes Rim Clinic open!


Some text goes here


May 2018

Hello South Wasco County Voters! 

White River Health District needs your votes for Deschutes Rim Clinic!

Please vote YES! For White River Health District on your May ballots.  This money is needed to continue regular operations for the Deschutes Rim Clinic. 

All costs keep going up every year, yet the money we receive from insurances keeps going down.  No insurance pays the full amount of your visit.  Our write offs every month are in the thousands of dollars, as we cannot bill you for anything that insurance does not allow us to bill. 

We provide the care you need, most of which is NOT dependent upon whether your insurance will pay for it or not. 

But our staff needs to get paid.  They also need to have medical insurance.  We are unable to provide most other benefits as our budget does not have the money. 

Our Local Option Tax Levy, which was last voted into place in 2013, will be on the May ballot. 

Our permanent tax rate is 25-cents per $1000 and it cannot be changed.  Our current Local Option Tax Levy is 50-cents per $1000 but is leaving us with a $30,000-60,000 deficit each year—I had to personally guarantee a loan last year to keep us open.  We need to ask for 75-cents per $1000.  This would bring in about $50-70,000 more for operational expenses.   This increase to 75-cents per $1000 will allow us to continue to operate with full services, continue to have more than one provider, continue five days a week of expanded hours from 9-6pm, and coordinate with other specialties. 

This Option Tax Levy is NOT going towards the new building. 

Without this Option Tax Levy, hours, services and jobs will need to be decreased.  I am hoping you do not want to see this happen.

We need your YES votes if we are to continue with our current services and hours.  


July 2018, by Tammarra Ferguson


Voters did not pass ballot measure 33-94 - the White River Health District, 5-Year Local Option Tax for General Operations - in the May 15 2018 general election.  As we stop to reflect on the painful loss of jobs and services this could mean in South Wasco County, we would like to take a few minutes to explain: how the Health District is funded; why the Health District requested an increase in the optional tax to operate the Clinic; and what the failed tax measure means for the Clinic operations in the short-term.


The District is a grassroots-formed government entity that began right here in SWC in 2001 through the pioneering efforts of residents just like you.  In 2005 as a newly formed government entity, the Health District secured a permanent tax base of $0.25 per each thousand dollars of property tax paid by SWC residence and it opened up DRHC.  However, the District soon identified the base tax was insufficient to avoid mounting debt from: the cost of building and starting a healthcare clinic, start-up challenges, and ongoing Clinic operations.  So, in addition to the base tax of $0.25 per each thousand dollars of property tax: in 2009 voters approved a 4-Year Local Option Tax for General Operations of $0.50; and in 2013 voters approved to continue the supplemental tax by again approving a 5-Year Local Option Tax for General Operations of $0.50.  So, for most of its operating years, DRHC has been funded with $0.75 per each thousand dollars of property tax from the property tax monies raised here in SWC.  The optional tax is optional for voters, but absolutely needed to supplement insurance reimbursements to operate the Clinic.


The tax revenue raised locally is reinvested locally into our SWC community for the benefit and wellbeing of our families, friends, neighbors, businesses and visitors.  DRHC cares for well over 2,000 patient visits a year.  South Wasco County residents love being able to access medical care and lab services so close to home; tourists love it because rafting on the river is a mitigated risk with a medical care so close by; and our homebound elderly residents love it because the Clinic does good, old-fashioned, home visits!   


When the $0.50 optional tax expired this year, the Health District took the opportunity to request an increase of $0.25 in the optional tax, raising it from $0.50 to $0.75.  The Health District had not requested an increase in tax based funding for 10 years, and had been operating inside its means for the duration of that time.  However, this was a strategic move to position the Health District to secure a permanent doctor or other highly qualified primary care provider to continue the good work the Clinic is doing in SWC.  It is inevitable that Sharon DeHart – a highly qualified Physician’s Assistant - will retire in the foreseeable future.  As we plan for the future, the Health District needs to build and grow the Clinic’s staff, and the staff’s capacity, in order to best serve the needs of all our SWC neighbors.  Doctors and other quality medical providers are expensive and we need to be prepared to negotiate for the healthcare provider we need.


Sadly, because of the 66% decrease in operating revenue from the failed ballot measure, the Health District has and will be continuing to make deep budget cuts to continue running the Clinic.  At the beginning of June, DRHC employed 9 people, 7 of whom live and work right here in our community.  With the failed measure, employee hours and income have been decreased, and support supplies and services are being reduced and consolidated.  We have already lost one of our valued and treasured medical assistants. 


In November 2018, the Health District will again offer voters the opportunity to vote in favor of a ballot measure for White River Health District to secure a 5-Year Local Option Tax for General Operations.  In the interim, we will be reaching out to you – all of our SWC shareholders – to gain more insight into what it is voters need and want from local health care providers and resources.  We want your support and we will do what is necessary to earn it.  We value the tax-base the SWC community provides, and we earnestly endeavor to operate with fiscal responsibility and transparency, to provide you with outstanding healthcare.


And in the meantime, we hope that each of our friends and neighbors in SWC are able to say they are “Livin’ My Best Life,” connecting with friends and family, laughing, hugging, celebrating movement by moving, and taking care to ensure their health and wellbeing.  Why?  Because at Deschutes Rim Health Clinic: We CARE.


 August 2018


·       A medical clinic is necessary for health and growth of South Wasco County

·       Taxes pay for operational expenses and employees, NOT the new building

·       Provides medical/dental/mental health close to home

·       Wrote grant to do listening sessions to determine need for a School Based Health Center

·       Provides funding for the Veggie RX program in South Wasco County

·       Assists local dentist with Dental screenings

·       Provides annual flu vaccination clinics

·       Provides low cost lab screenings twice a year

South Wasco County has 1622 voters; in May 2018 only 39% voted

Our ballot measure was defeated by only 9 votes: 318 No, 309 Yes




Without tax monies, what happens?

Decreased hours of availability

Decreased medical provider hours

Decreased staff

Decreased ACCESS



White River Health District – Option Tax Levy


Wampinrock, October 2018

Hello to all South Wasco County Residents and Friends!

We have several items of interest for you this month.


November 6 is Election Day.  If you have not ever voted, you really need to register to vote.  You may not think your vote will count, but it does! 

Deschutes Rim Clinic will have our ballot measure for the Option Tax Levy back on the ballot.  Last May it failed by only 9 votes!  This tax is necessary to keep staff paid and to pay for services and supplies.  It does NOT pay for the new building. 

Please, make your voice heard and VOTE!  Remember, Oregon has made it SOOO easy to vote, you will receive your ballot in the mail, so all it requires is a pen mark, sign and address and stamp it—then remember to put it in a mailbox.  Remember to look on the back side of your ballot, as you never know what you might find on the back—like our request in May!


                We are launching Listening Sessions for a Community Needs Assessment in South Wasco County to see if there is a need for a School Based Health Center.  Please see the ad elsewhere in this paper.  There will be some group interviews being arranged by the school as well as the ability for the community at large, especially parents, to weigh in with an on-line survey.  Please see additional information in this paper on the Community Needs Assessment.


Also, we are continuing our fundraising for the new building, and our annual Prime Rib dinner is set for Saturday, November 3rd, at the Wamic Grange.

We needed more room, which is why we are using the Grange this year!  Last year we had people eating in stages and standing room only for the auctions.

We will again have a silent auction plus the fun oral auction, both with some great items to auction. 

Tickets will start being sold in October, at the Clinic, $35 each.  You will receive a Bid Paddle number and the full Prime Rib Dinner and an evening of very fun entertainment!  Please remember this is a fundraiser and be prepared to bid on something!