The Multnomah County Board of Commissioners on April 6 unanimously approved the lease with Portland Community College (PCC) of the new site for La Clinica, the County’s primary care clinic in the Cully neighborhood. The Board also approved moving into the design phase of the construction project.
The project cost is estimated to be $7,838,261 and will be funded by a combination of $6.8 million in Community Health Center funds and a $1 million contribution from PCC. La Clinica de Buena Salud Health Center (La Clinica), which is currently located at 6736 NE Killingsworth St., will move 1.5 miles away to 4299 NE Killingsworth.
The move will expand the clinic space to offer more primary care services and — for the first time — offer full dental and pharmacy services. In a much needed boost to local healthcare employment, the investment will also bring workforce development opportunities for education and on-the-job training through the County’s partnership with PCC.
“We are excited to expand care services and respond to patients' feedback about the need for easy on-site access to dental and pharmacy services for their families,” said Adrienne Daniels, Community Health Center interim director. “We welcome anyone from the community to find their health care home at our new Cully location.”
Daniels said the County will be working closely with clinic staff, patients and community members on the transition. Construction is expected to begin in 2024 with an opening planned in 2025.
The clinic currently shares space in the Baltazar F. Ortiz Community Center with the County’s social services center, Bienestar de la Familia. But that space is too small to meet a growing demand. And, the neighborhood clinic is the only primary care clinic in the County’s system that does not offer dental and pharmacy services. The funding approved by the Board will dramatically improve La Clinica’s ability to offer more medical services to the Cully community, especially with the addition of a new dental clinic and pharmacy – a long-held desire of patients.
“La Clinica will continue to serve existing clients with expanded services and broaden the scope and reach of the healthcare options in this area with critical need,” said Chair Jessica Vega Pederson. “I’m so pleased about this positive shift for the communities we serve and for our increased partnership with Portland Community College and the local area workforce.”
Healthcare providers around the country, including Multnomah County, have struggled with a nationwide shortage of workers including medical and dental assistants. In 2019, District 2 Commissioner Susheela Jayapal, who represents the neighborhood where the new clinic will be located, convened a meeting of PCC representatives (including Mark Mitsui, then President of PCC) and the County to introduce a unique opportunity to partner in a space designed to both support workforce development and offer healthcare and other community services.
After delays due to the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, conversations began in earnest again in 2021. Jayapal had many conversations with PCC leadership about the vision for the Opportunity Center and the potential for synergy between Multnomah County’s Community Health Clinics, PCC, and all of the partners in this project – including Home Forward, the Native American Youth and Family Center, and the Oregon Department of Human Services. That led to an agreement to share the new Health Center space with the goal of attracting and then supporting local students, employers, patients and community members with job training and access to comprehensive medical services. By expanding services and addressing the health workforce crisis, this innovative partnership will benefit everyone involved, health officials said.
“This partnership will allow us not only to provide healthcare in an up-to-date and larger space, but to braid healthcare with other social services, and to create a career pathway into healthcare for PCC students, particularly those who have experienced barriers to workforce entry,” said Jayapal. “I am thrilled to see this project moving forward.”
The healthcare workforce development program will help ensure there is adequate staff capacity to provide the care required.
“The center will aim to reverse racial and economic disparities by connecting people to skills training, wrap-around support and career coaching so they can succeed in education and careers with economic mobility,” said Pam Hester, dean of Workforce Development at PCC. "At the center, PCC will help people explore careers, build confidence and create plans for success. On-site partners will collaborate closely to offer support and guidance.”