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Clackamas will shut down three health clinics

OREGON CITY - Blaming rising costs and limited funding to provide medical and dental care, Clackamas County - pending final approval from the federal Bureau of Primary Health Care - will close its three primary-care clinics over the next two to three years.

The county's Community Health Division, which operates the clinics, will close its Molalla Clinic on June 30 and the Sandy Clinic on Dec. 31. Its Beavercreek Clinic in Oregon City is expected to remain open up to three more years, closing in 2010 or 2011.

'It's a difficult decision, and we believe in the long run that it's the right decision,' said Clackamas County Chair Lynn Peterson of Lake Oswego. 'The county's role in delivering certain individual health services is changing, but our commitment to ensuring community access to sustainable primary care will continue.'

For several years Clackamas County has struggled with financial challenges posed by the clinics. Its decision to work with community-based organization Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic Inc. reflects the fact that most other county public-health agencies typically do not operate primary-care facilities.

Community Health Division representatives are coordinating continued primary-care services with Yakima Valley Farm Workers Clinic Inc., an independently operated nonprofit agency. The provider, with health centers in Oregon and Washington communities including Woodburn and Southeast Portland, is preparing to begin accepting Clackamas County patients in July, pending federal approval.

'Our goal is a seamless transition,' said Community Health Division Director Melinda Mowery. 'As the process moves forward, we will update residents to prevent any service interruptions.'

Patients will receive written notice by mail regarding this year's clinic closures, including options for continuing their health care at the Beavercreek Clinic or with the new provider.