From the CEO
As I write this, 2019 seems like a very long time ago. La Clinica, Jackson County, and our country and world are in the middle of a viral pandemic unlike anything most of us have ever experienced. Like many, La Clinica is facing unprecedented challenge. It doesn’t surprise me at all how our team is responding: galvanized in its cause, focused on caring, brimming with spirit and innovation. This, I realize, is La Clinica every year. It’s how we serve our community no matter what. I’m proud to work with this team, grateful for your consistent support of all we do, and delighted to share just a few of our service highlights from 2019
Brenda Johnson, CEO, May 11, 2020
Background photo: La Clinica's mobile health team serving patients along the Bear Creek Greenway as part of La Clinica's COVID-19 response, May 2020
After undiagnosed diabetes and a severe kidney infection landed De Ramsey in the hospital on the brink of multiple organ failure, she knew she had to fight to get better so she could see her little boy grow up.
“I want to be around for my son,” she said.
At La Clinica’s Central Point Health Center, she found allies to help her deal with her diabetes and a list of other physical and mental health diagnoses, as well as provide needed dental care.
In 2019, La Clinica was recognized for its efforts to identify patients who are likely to need the most care to prevent critical health problems, connect them with a multifaceted clinical team, and help them plan ways to feel better. The Oregon Health Authority gave 5-star designations—the highest possible in its Patient-Centered Primary Care Home program—to all five of La Clinica’s primary care centers. The program aims to lower costs and provide better care to keep people healthy by setting standards on access to care, accountability, comprehensive care, continuity of care, coordination and integration of care, and focus on patient and family.
Working with Nurse Case Manager Karen Gonzalez, De, 51, learned about healthy food choices, portion control, and how medication affected her blood sugar. She set small goals and tracked steady improvements. Her diabetes has been controlled for nearly three years, and she shares her nutrition knowledge with her 7-year-old son Tex to help him grow up healthy.
Whatever she needs, De trusts Dr. Elizabeth Banowetz, her primary care doctor, will listen and connect her to the right resources. That has included the chance to talk to a behavioral health specialist at La Clinica and get a referral to a counselor to help with bipolar disorder, as well as referrals to medical specialists around the Rogue Valley. Electronic medical records help her and her doctors keep tabs on medications. She knows who to call if she has questions or problems, and she even gets calls from her care team when problems arise, like when she was hospitalized after a car crash.
“They do so many things that help in so many ways,” De said. “Without the counseling and preventive care and everything I’ve gotten at La Clinica, I don’t know where I would be.”
In 2019, the Oregon Health Authority gave 5-star designations—the highest possible in its Patient-Centered Primary Care Home program—to all five of La Clinica’s primary care centers.
Beatriz Padilla has relied on La Clinica for primary health care for 22 years, and on the recommendation of a friend and neighbor, she recently started taking wellness classes to help improve her health.
“My neighbor attended, and she said the classes are very good,” Beatriz said in Spanish. “They give me time for myself, to take care of myself.”
She was among a record number of people who came to La Clinica in 2019 for wellness services, including classes and appointments for nutritional education, physical therapy, and massage. During the year, 1,179 people participated in these activities, up from 813 in 2018. Classes offer support and instruction in healthy cooking and eating, exercise, mindfulness, managing chronic illnesses, and more. They are taught in English and Spanish.
“Our wide range of wellness classes and services is a key part of our mission of inspiring patients to live full and healthy lives,” Wellness Program Manager Michelle Wilson said. “This gives them tools they can use every day.”
Beatriz is a regular at a mindfulness class taught in Spanish each Monday at La Clinica Wellness Center. She finds herself wishing the class lasted a little longer as Wellness Coach Grace Enriquez guides participants through breathing exercises, helping them focus their attention and let go of stress. Beatriz says the mindfulness class has improved her concentration and her sleep.
She and her husband both benefit from a healthy eating class that has provided a binder full of tasty recipes like turkey meatballs in green curry sauce, a new family favorite. She has her eye on more upcoming classes, too, that will help her manage her diabetes. And now she’s the one encouraging friends and neighbors to check out La Clinica wellness classes.
More than 1,000 people took part in La Clinica's wellness services in 2019.
Russell Beebe, a self-employed sculptor from Medford, is breathing easier because the La Clinica Community Pharmacy at Phoenix Health Center provides an inhaler to treat his chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at a price he can afford.
“I’m an example of somebody who has spent more time thinking about how to create, not about how to make money,” Russell said, looking at a layer of clouds he is carving onto a 12-foot-tall cedar column. “Now I’m 77 years old and have no money in the bank.”
When his doctor prescribed Spiriva for his lung condition, he discovered the prescription would cost him $500 a month. Worried about the cost, he called his insurance company and was told he could get it for a $320 co-pay. When he went to the La Clinica pharmacy, he got the medication for $20.
The pharmacies La Clinica opened in Phoenix in November and at the Wellness Center in January can offer deep discounts because La Clinica buys prescription medication at federally negotiated low prices. The savings is passed along to patients who don’t have insurance that covers prescription drugs or who face high co-pays.
“Our pharmacies are all about giving patients easy access and the ability to get affordable prescriptions,” said Traci Fossen, La Clinica’s chief quality officer, who oversees the program. “Our pharmacists say we always do our best to ensure that no one leaves without the medication they need.”
In the first four months, the two pharmacies filled more than 3,600 prescriptions.
Russell, who has been a La Clinica patient for 27 years, is also working with an acupuncturist who sees patients at the Wellness Center. He aims to heal and strengthen his body in hopes of no longer needing an inhaler.
He appreciates La Clinica’s dedication to supporting patients with a variety of resources to improve their health.
“La Clinica is leading a quiet revolution, I think,” he said.
In their first four months, the two pharmacies filled more than 3,600 prescriptions.
Patti Dunkin first came to La Clinica’s Birch Grove Health Center in 2015 when she was 25 and just starting to get her life back together after being addicted to heroin. She hadn’t had a primary care provider since her childhood pediatrician.
“I was under the impression I didn’t need a doctor,” said Patti, who had relied on walk-in clinics as she bounced back and forth between the Rogue Valley and Seattle.
At Birch Grove, though, she found a community of support that took her physical pain seriously and offered help with her substance use disorder. Even through relapses when Patti returned to using opioids, family nurse practitioner Julianne Curl stuck with her, ultimately guiding her toward medication-assisted treatment in mid-2018.
The Birch Grove care team worked with her to explore options for prescription medications that would block the effects of opioids. La Clinica has steadily increased the number of providers who have federal authority to prescribe these medications with the aim of providing this type of treatment where people get primary health care.
La Clinica now has 18 healthcare providers who can offer medication-assisted treatment—more than any other primary care organization in Jackson County. The pairing of these medications with support groups or connections to other counseling is available at all five of La Clinica’s primary care centers and the Women’s Health Center.
La Clinica supports patients with medication-assisted treatment throughout their recovery as they learn coping skills and build a healthy lifestyle and support network. The best research encourages patients to stay on medication for at least two years, but they can turn to it anytime to help prevent relapses, said Stormi Baumann, a wellness coach who helps lead La Clinica’s program.
Patti recommends La Clinica to others she senses are looking for support finding their way through recovery.
“I usually tell them that La Clinica will meet you wherever you’re at,” she said. “They have doctors that will help you and they are always so friendly.”
After sharing that message in recovery circles, she decided to push herself to speak up in the larger community and be part of the La Clinica annual report to meet a personal goal of doing things that once scared her.
Patti is in a place she barely imagined when she first came to La Clinica.
“I’m definitely a whole different person,” she said.
She’s re-established her faith, made friends she knows care about her health and happiness, and is working her way from a temporary agency to being a full-time, regular employee.
“I feel like an adult,” she said with a smile.
La Clinica now has 18 healthcare providers who can offer medication-assisted treatment—more than any other primary care organization in Jackson County.
(Photo by Jim Craven)
Why La Clinica matters
Its commitment to the health of our community is clear
Paul Nicholson is president of La Clinica’s Board of Directors and retired executive director of Oregon Shakespeare Festival.
I’ve followed the La Clinica story for at least 20 years, admiring how it has steadily grown from a storefront health center for migrant farmworkers to its current position as a leading healthcare provider in the Rogue Valley, reaching nearly 30,000 patients each year. I’ve been associated with La Clinica through my work as executive director for the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and as board president of the Ashland Community Hospital. My wife Cathy and I have long supported the Raise Your Heart for Health campaigns. We were donors to the West Medford Health Center capital campaign and have been contributors to La Clinica ever since. I was asked to join the board of directors eight years ago and have loved being able to be more active with the organization.
What first attracted you to La Clinica? I recognized long ago that La Clinica had a very clear commitment to the health of our community. In the early days, most of that commitment played out in its work with the Latinx community, but more recently, particularly since the advent of the Affordable Care Act, its reach has expanded to be the largest healthcare provider to lower income residents in the valley. It offers a broad range of services, unmatched by any other healthcare provider in the valley. It serves patients with compassion, kindness, and great skill. La Clinica changes people’s lives. And people have learned that they can rely on La Clinica. Before I joined the board, I watched the CEO, Brenda Johnson, in her work as a leader, and said to myself, “Sometime I want to work more closely with Brenda.”