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PMH survey helps in design of clinic

To the editor: Thank you for participating in Pioneer Memorial Hospital’s Community Needs Assessment Survey. Because of your voiced opinions and suggestions, we have successfully completed a major component of our proposal for a safety net clinic. More importantly, if we are awarded the grant, your comments will be included in the clinic design intended to address the specific needs and concerns of Crook County residents. During the community needs assessment, we spoke to a wide range of people including those struggling with access, senior citizens, community leaders, social service agencies, church leaders, private industry, health administrators, and finally health care professionals. In sum, we conducted twenty-nine individual interviews, two focus group discussions (with twenty-eight participants) and two town meetings. After reviewing our notes and transcripts there emerged some common themes in the response to our questionnaires. With few exceptions, community members recognized an underserved population within Crook County in regards to health care. Many indicated a combination of financial, linguistic, and structural barriers which discourage consistent and timely care for some residents. In addition, there was a near consensus that a safety net clinic with a sliding scale pay schedule, has potential to significantly abate the access gaps in this county. One city official declared: “I think that this would be an ideal place to have a safety net clinic. I think there is a significant portion of the county that doesn’t have any avenues of access. I don’t really know the ratio of doctors to population-but I’m not sure if this number is important. It seems to me, many can’t-for a number of reasons, access these doctors.” A similar remark came from a local health care provider: “We have a variety of underserved people. We have a substantial amount of people without health insurance and for this reason alone they do not come to the hospital. It is simply too expensive for them. Later we see these people in the emergency room with acute illnesses that could have been prevented.” Although a safety net clinic is thought to be a needed addition to the community, multiple participants cautioned against creating overlapping in services. As a means to avoid service overlap, one of our primary goals is to create networks in the community that enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of both the proposed clinic and existing services. To minimize the potential for system abuse, most participants supported the concept of a patient co-pay at the time of service. With wide community support, we are optimistic that a safety net clinic will be a positive addition to Crook County’s health care landscape. As we continue in this grant writing process, we appreciate any additional questions, comments or suggestions. Your participation and ongoing support is essential to maintaining a strong and competent health care network. Please feel free to contact Sharry Fassett or myself. Again, thank you for your support and participation. Toby Keys and Sharry Fassett Pioneer Memorial Hospital Prineville