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Officials break ground on Rosewood Plaza

OUTLOOK PHOTO: JOSH KULLA - Officials symbolically 'broke ground' on the new Rosewood Plaza building.Like a knight on a white horse, Human Solutions Executive Director Jean DeMaster rode in on a yellow dump truck to the groundbreaking of Rosewood Plaza.

The plaza, the joint venture between Human Solutions and The Wallace Medical Concern, will be a four-story affordable housing building with a dental clinic on the ground floor.

The groundbreaking marked both the begininng of construction and, more symbolically, the beginning of an innovative housing and medical care solution for the high-need Rockwood community.

“We are impacting this community. We are making change,” said Rep. Carla Piluso, D-Gresham, who serves as board president for Human Solutions. “We are the catalyst that is going to tip us over to true success in Rockwood.”

The multi-use project will expand Wallace Medical Concern’s existing medical clinic so that more homeless and low-income people can receive health care.

The project also includes the renovation of an existing 26-unit apartment building and construction of 19 new apartments on the floors above the new dental clinic.

The Wallace Medical Concern’s current medical clinic in Human Solutions’ Rockwood Multi-Service Center, adjacent to the project site at 124 N.E. 181st Ave., will be expanded after the agency’s administrative offices move to the new building.

“It’s a milestone for this to happen,” said Mike McKeel, chairman of the Rosewood Plaza Capital Campaign and a Gresham dentist. He said dental care was the most underserved aspect of health care, but has some of the greatest impact on lives. “It’s had to be self-sufficient when you can’t smile and you’re in pain.”

The sliding-fee-scale dental clinic will serve more than 3,000 people a year, and will be a training site of the Oregon Health and Science University School of Dentistry. The expanded medical clinic will serve an additional 1,500 patients per year.

Human Solutions and Wallace Medical Concern chose to partner on the Rosewood Plaza to meet the need for dental and medical services and affordable housing in high-poverty areas of East Multnomah County. About half of the project vicinity is a federally designated dental “Health Professional Shortage Area” and dental health has been identified as one of the area’s greatest needs.

Lisa Kline, executive director of The Wallace Medical Concern, said dental issues are the No. 1 cause of absences in school.

“Our children deserve to have access to dental care,” Kline said. “Together we will do right by our families.”

Human Solutions and The Wallace Medical Concern have raised more than $2.4 million toward the goal of $2.7 million and continue to accept donations.

“Today is a testament to what happens when you bring people together for a worthy cause,” said City Councilor Lori Stegmann.

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