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Clackamas County budget includes two health clinics

Assuming Clackamas County approves its fiscal year budget starting July 1, it will also launch construction on both a crisis clinic and a primary care clinic in unincorporated North Clackamas, which has the second-highest concentration of homeless population in the state. Formal budget approval is scheduled for June 23.

The crisis clinic, in 6,000 square feet of leased shopping center space on S.E. 82nd Avenue, will provide crisis telephone and community outreach, urgent treatment, and involuntary commitment in partnership with the Clackamas County Sheriff's Office. The crisis center is currently located at Hilltop, where there's only one bus providing service.

'All roads point to North Clackamas,' said Cindy Becker, director of the county's Health Housing and Human Services Department.

The new 9,600-square-foot primary care clinic nearby on Sunnyside Road across from Kaiser will provide medical, dental and behavioral health services, with a future goal of providing pharmacy and X-ray services.

Together the projects will involve $2.7 million in start-up costs by November and $8 million in annual operating costs to serve an estimated10,000 people through nearly 40,000 annual visits. The clinics will accept Oregon Health Plan, Medicare and private insurance, while billing the uninsured.

Closure of primary-care clinics in Sandy and Molalla a few years ago has helped open the potential for clinics in North Clackamas.

'We need to bring services to people who are in need,' said Commissioner Ann Lininger. 'This is really impressive how this package is coming together.'

Both clinics will be located with the low-income population and public transportation in mind. Paul and Connie McArtor of Oak Grove said they were looking forward to the opening of a northern clinic since they currently make a 15-mile round trip each week to get their primary care in Oregon City.

Connie McArtor, 51, who recently lost her hairdresser job, has been diagnosed with a thyroid tumor. After hooking up with Project Access Now through the clinic, McArtor got her health care covered and is now pursuing a teaching degree at Marylhurst University.

She likes the idea of a clinic in North Clackamas, not only for its proximity to her home, but also because, she said, 'It would be nice to be shopping and going to the doctor's office on the same trip.'

Twenty full-time-equivalent positions would move from the current crisis center, and the new center is expected to grow from a baseline of 800 psychiatric holds, plus 500 discharges from hospitals annually.

The establishment of a second primary-care clinic in addition to the Beavercreek facility would be a major factor in increasing the county's full-time-equivalent positions from 1,897 to 1,913. Fifty new hires would be needed to staff the facility, and the county has been leaving vacancies unfilled in other departments to make up for the gap.