The county continued to expand its services to serve emerging needs in the community. Pre-natal and family care and treatment for sexually-transmitted diseases topped the list. As demand for county services grew, support began to flourish for Multnomah County to provide more primary care clinics. The county also opened the first school-based health clinic at Roosevelt High School in 1984.
School-based clinics allowed the county to offer primary care at the neighborhood level. The county increasingly served residents where they were, caring for underserved groups like expectant parents, the homeless youth and LGBTQ students. The clinics soon grew more comprehensive, offering an array of services from sports physicals to mental health care.
Then in the 1970s, with the war in Vietnam drew to a close, the city of Portland became a relocation center for immigrants and refugees. In its earliest years, county services for immigrants had been restricted to communicable diseases. But with the arrival of war refugees from Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia, they presented a host of other concerns. Many were suffering from poor dental hygiene, lingering illnesses and mental health issues. The county began using interpreters and partnered with volunteers in the private sector to offer holistic care for immigrants and refugees. As refugees and immigrants arrived in Portland from Bosnia, the former Soviet Union, China, Somalia and other nations, the health department leaders hired interpreters in more than 20 languages.
Today, there are eight primary care clinics across the Portland area offering interpreting services in Spanish, Russian, Ukrainian, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Vietnamese. Mid-County remains a leader, with 60 languages spoken among clients. In 2013, the Assistant Sec. of State Anne C. Richard visited the county’s largest primary care clinic at Mid-County she found staff provide medical screenings for every refugee arriving in the county within 30 days of their arrival. Richard praised it as a national model of service: “You are making other states look bad.”