One Community Health (OCH) has opened a new health clinic at 849 Pacific Ave. in Hood River. Replacing their 29-year-old facility, the new 38,000 square foot health center offers modern amenities and new technology to help reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission. The year-long construction project concluded in early July. One Community Health (OCH) is a nonprofit, federally qualified health center with locations in The Dalles and Hood River.
“While construction started on the new building before the arrival of COVID-19, OCH, in partnership with Scott Edwards Architecture LLP and Bremik Construction Inc., were able to make adjustments throughout construction to incorporate cutting edge technologies to help prevent the spread of the virus,” said Max Janasik, chief executive officer for OCH, in a press release.
The changes included installing negative pressure rooms and photohydroionization technology, MERV-15 air filtering, and air change optimizations to help keep patients and staff safe.
“With these new systems, rapid COVID-19 antigen testing, and enhanced safety training and procedures, we’ll be providing patients with one of the safest environments to receive care, including oral health,” said Dr. Elizabeth Aughney, chief health officer for OCH.
In addition to multiple layers of COVID-19 defense incorporated into the building’s HVAC systems, the added size (almost three times larger than the previous clinic) offers patients and staff more room to comfortably maintain distance. While the building provides immediate benefits during the COVID-19 pandemic, many more will be realized in the future. All these preventive infrastructure layers are in addition to “a lot of process changes and a lot of training and safety protocols,” said Chief Technology Officer Paul Gering.
Patients now have access to integrated whole-person care including physical, mental, oral, and preventative health services.
“For over 34 years, One Community Health has served residents of the Columbia River Gorge with a special focus on vulnerable and underserved communities,” Janisik said. “For example, we know from our own data (over 3,100 tests) that those who identify as Hispanic are over three times more likely to test positive for COVID-19. Now more than ever, our patients deserve this safe, cutting edge, and beautiful space along with additional access to our amazing providers and care teams,” Janisik said.
Asked about the cost impact of negative pressurization and other improvements, Janisik said, “We were able to catch (the design changes) early enough in construction so it was not invasive, and as a federally qualified health center we were able to take some of those grants and absorb it within our overall contingency budgets. It’s expensive but in the overall scale of thinking, the clinic will be here for 40 years, and for any (diseases) that can be transmitted, these capabilities are very valuable.”
Gering said, “We started three years ago with program area and conceptual design, after discussions with our clinical staff, to talk about team care and co-location or services, and how to structurally design the layout, with a lot of what are called ‘bubble designs’ and adjacencies.
“It’s really a large wall full of bubbles, adjacent needs. At some point along the way we involved a contractor early to help with the actual design in the conceptual stages, which is a little unique, and good.” He said it takes the intertwined process of design-and-build a step farther, “involving the builder at the practical side of things,” Gering said. “It gave them the chance to say, ‘Hey, that’s a cool idea, but can we consider something else?’ So we involved the builder really early. There were quite a few minor adjustments, nothing major.”
He said the goal was “creating a space everyone can access.
“Sometimes you think of a health center that serves lower income folks as not being at the same quality level as the ones that folks can afford, and we wanted to turn that on its head and create the experience for everyone,” Gering said. All signage is bilingual, reflecting One Community Health’s history serving the migrant community.
Artwork made possible through the OCH high school art scholarship graces lobbies and hallways.
Another amenity is the learning kitchen, to assist clients develop improved nutrition, and connected community space, located just off the main entrance.
Formerly known as La Clínica del Cariño Family Health Care Center, Inc., OCH was founded in 1986 and today has evolved into an official Patient-Centered Primary Care Home recognized as the Best Primary Care Clinic of 2019 by the Central Oregon Independent Practice Association (COIPA).
OCH currently provides services to more than 16,000 patients. In addition, OCH excels in providing educational programs and support that reflect its integrated approach to health and wellbeing.
Dedicated to advancing health and social justice for all its community members, OCH serves patients from the Mid-Columbia River Gorge Region: Wasco, Hood River, Klickitat and Skamania counties.
The old OCH building has been demolished to create a parking area, and a September grand opening is planned for the new facility.