Tag Archives: Vernonia Health Center

Vernonia Health Center Has New Physician Assistant

VHC-PhysicianAssistantKimLovato-webA new Physician Assistant has been hired as the permanent  primary care provider at the Vernonia Health Clinic. Kimberly Lovato, PA-C began her position on January 5th. The Vernonia Health Center will continue its partnership with Pacific University and The Public Health Foundation of Columbia County to provide medical care. Students in the PA program at Pacific University will continue to do rotations in the health center under the supervision of the PA.

Lovato has practiced rural family medicine for seven years and has experience diagnosing, treating, and providing support and maintenance of a wide scope of medical conditions from pediatric to geriatric patients. She is highly skilled in assisting patients to reach their goals in chronic medical conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, asthma, COPD, endocrine and coagulation disorders. Dr. Eubanks will continue to supervise the clinic. Melissa Walsh, who provided the bulk of coverage at the Vernonia Health Center during the search for a permanent provider, will continue her practice at the school-based health center at the Vernonia Schools.

To schedule an appointment at the Vernonia Health Center, please call (503) 429-0622.

Vernonia Health Center Celebrates Grand Opening

The Vernonia Health Board, along with the rest of the Vernonia community, celebrated the grand opening of the new Vernonia Health Center, Carolyn Keasey Memorial Building on Saturday, October 25, 2014.

Health Center Board Chairman Erika Paleck was the Master of Ceremonies for the grand opening, welcoming the crowd and introducing the guest speakers.

The event was the culmination of several years of intense work on the part of the Health Center Board of Directors and many others.   That work specifically involved fundraising in order to move the facility from its previous location on Bridge Street, which flooded in 2007.  The new facility is located  at 1005 Cougar Street and is part of the Rose Avenue Project complex at the south end of town where they can now operate safely.

Paleck informed the audience that the new building has been open since late September.  She also noted that the Health Center Board is a 501(c)(3) non profit organization which owns and administers the health clinic buildings which provide health care services to the Vernonia community.  The previous health clinic building on Bridge Street has now been demolished.

Paleck told the audience that the Health Center Board’s goal is  “…building partnerships with  new providers in order to widen the scope of services so it is not just primary care.”

Guest speakers at the ceremony included State Senator Betsy Johnson and  Columbia County Commissioner Tony Hyde.

“This is another great day for Vernonia!”  said Senator Johnson.  “Vernonia is a great place to live and work and this is one more step in putting everything back, not just the way it was but ten times better!”

“We had a crisis, and instead of just falling flat and becoming victims, we recognized opportunity,”  added Commissioner Hyde, referencing the new school, the new West Oregon Electric headquarters, and the new Health Center as improvements to Vernonia since the flood.

Also in attendance at the ceremony were State  Representative Brad Witt, Vernonia Mayor Josette Mitchell and former Vernonia School District Superintendent Ken Cox, who traveled from his new home in Idaho to be at the event.

Patient care at the Health Center is provided by The Public Health Foundation of Columbia County and Pacific University.  Sherrie Ford, the new administrator for The Public Health Foundation, was a guest speaker, as was Physician Assistant Jim Ferguson representing Pacific University.

The new Heath Center building is named in honor of Carolyn Keasey, long time member and chairperson of the Vernonia Health Board.  Carolyn Keasey passed away in October of 2013.  Numerous members of the Keasey family were on hand for the celebration.  Paleck unveiled a portrait of Carolyn Keasey which she said will have a prominent place in the new building.  “We are very proud to have Carolyn’s name connected with the Vernonia Health Clinic from this day forward,” said Paleck.  “Her upbeat spirit was the driving force that kept the project alive to its completion.”

Members of the Keasey family helped celebrate the grand opening of the  Vernonia Health Center Carolyn Keasey Memorial Building.

Members of the Keasey family helped celebrate the grand opening of the
Vernonia Health Center Carolyn Keasey Memorial Building.












The new facility was fully funded through fundraising efforts and grant awards from The Meyer Memorial Trust, The Ford Family Foundation, The Collins Foundation, The Oregon Community Foundation, The Samuel S. Johnson Foundation and the Carolyn Keasey Memorial Fund.  Funding was also provided through the FEMA buyout of the old clinic building.   Funding also  came from  The Providence-St. Vincent Foundation, which collected funds donated to rebuild the clinic immediately following the flood in December 2007, and from individual donors.

Marc Seigel from U.S. Senator Jeff Merkely’s office read a message from the Senator.  “Congratulations on this exciting grand opening of the new Vernonia Health Center. Access to affordable and quality health care is critical to our communities and this new health center will provide necessary primary care to Vernonia residents.  Due to an innovative model with Pacific University and The Public Health Foundation of Columbia County, the Vernonia Health Center will fill an important health care need for the community,” read Segal.

The Carolyn Keasey Memorial Building is the first completed phase of the Rose Avenue Project, a collaboration between local non profits and the City of Vernonia which has been developed as a home for local essential services.  The project will hopefully add the new Senior Center and Vernonia Cares food bank in the near future.

The new facility has five rooms dedicated to patient care, treatment rooms and office space, as well as a large conference room.  There is space for additional services to be added.

The building was designed by Scott Edwards Architecture and constructed by Five Star Building.

Following the grand opening ceremony the building was open for tours and refreshments were served.

Invitation: Health Center’s Grand Opening October 25

VernoniaHealthCenterSign-webThe Vernonia Health Center’s new Carolyn Keasey Memorial Building is open for business at 1005 Cougar Street.  It’s the result of a multiple year effort by the Vernonia Health Center Board (VHCB) to develop a plan and raise money to build a new facility out of the floodplain so that Vernonia and the Upper Nehalem Valley region can continue to have local access to medical care. Designed to incorporate a team/multiple provider-model, the goal is to create a true medical home in Vernonia. Primary care is provided in partnership with the Public Health Foundation of Columbia County and Pacific University. The Vernonia Health Center Board will bring additional services to the new facility to improve health care in Vernonia, so stay tuned for updates.

Designed by Scott Edwards Architects, the project was managed by Joan Jasper, and built by Five Star Builders overseen by Clint Jackson and Al Jenkins.  It’s situated on land owned by the City of Vernonia for which the Vernonia Health Center Board has a fifty-year lease.  Read More

Health Center on Track to Open in Fall

Perhaps you have noticed a new building going up on the corner of Cougar Street and Weed Avenue and are wondering what it will be and when it will be open. This will be the new home of the Vernonia Health Center.  The Vernonia Health Board is very excited to see the progress and hope you share their enthusiasm. The building is scheduled for completion by fall of this year. Operations will be moved from the current location on Bridge Street which will then be demolished.

Through very generous donations the Health Board was able to fully fund the construction of the new facility. The Health Board is very grateful for support from Meyer Memorial Trust, the Ford Family Foundation, Collins Foundation, Oregon Community Foundation, Samuel S. Johnson Foundation, funds from Providence, their FEMA buyout, and many donations from community members to the Carolyn Keasey Memorial Fund.

The new clinic will be larger than the current clinic and the Health Board has been working hard to develop a “medical home” model where several services will be offered.  Primary care, provided in partnership with The Public Health Foundation of Columbia County and Pacific University, will continue. The Health Board is planning to add mental and behavioral health and physical therapy in the near future and are exploring other support services that will benefit their patients and community. Read More

Health Center Celebrates Groundbreaking

Six years after the Flood of 2007 damaged the health clinic in Vernonia, the new Vernonia Health Center took another major step towards becoming a reality on Friday, March 28, 2014.

Over 100 friends, family, dignitaries and citizens joined members of the Vernonia Health Board to celebrate the official groundbreaking for construction of the new health care facility on a rainy but   joyous day.

The event was held at the West Oregon Electric Cooperative truck bays and included speeches, light snacks and the ceremonial first shovels of dirt, which was held inside, due to the hard spring rain that was falling.

The first shovels of dirt! (L to R) Vernonia Mayor Josette Mitchell, Senator Betsy Johnson, County Commissioner Tony Hyde, Heather Lewis, Health Board members Wendy Sears, Bob Wagner and Ralph Keasey

The first shovels of dirt! (L to R) Vernonia Mayor Josette Mitchell, Senator Betsy Johnson, County Commissioner Tony Hyde, Heather Lewis, Health Board members Wendy Sears, Bob Wagner and Ralph Keasey

Health Board President Erika Paleck welcomed the crowd to what she called a ”…long, and overdue occasion.”

In her opening remarks Paleck lauded the efforts of the many groups, organizations, foundations, civic entities, professionals and individual volunteers who worked together to move the project forward.  Paleck noted that, not only was the Health Board breaking ground on a new facility, they were also breaking new ground on the rural health care paradigm as well.  “The old school paradigm said bring in a big conglomerate,” said Paleck.  “In the new paradigm the Vernonia Health Board is entering into partnerships that emphasize  not just primary care but partnerships that educate, that support  mental health, that help clients navigate through the insurance mazes and in general support the whole human being.”

Vernonia Health Board President Erika Paleck with an image of the new Health Center.

Vernonia Health Board President Erika Paleck with an image of the new Health Center.


Paleck was referring in part to the new operational partnerships the Vernonia Health Board has created with Pacific University and The Public Health Foundation of Columbia County. These partners are continuing to develop a new model for delivery of health care services in a rural setting. Pacific University is supporting the Health Center with student internships, research and professional advice.   The Public Health Foundation of Columbia County has provided care givers and staff.   “Our new partners provide us an opportunity to deliver services in the community and at the same time train badly needed next generation health care providers,” said Paleck. Read More

City and Health Board Sign Lease Agreement

The City of Vernonia and the Vernonia Health Board have reached an agreement and signed a fifty year lease for property controlled by the City at the Rose Avenue Project.  The agreement allows the Health Board to move forward with construction of the new Health Center.

A ground breaking ceremony has been scheduled for March 28, 2014 at 12:30 PM at the West Oregon Electric Cooperative Bays.

“This has been a long process. It has involved a lot of planning and many different entities working together to craft this lease agreement,” said Heather Lewis, representing the Health Board.  “We are all glad to move forward.  This is a big project for the City of Vernonia, the Health Board and the community.  In my opinion, both sides showed their commitment to this project by the level of diligence they invested in making sure this was done right. The effort that everyone put into this is greatly appreciated. The long term benefits to the community are worth the time spent on building a project of this importance.”

Mayor Josette Mitchell was equally upbeat when discussing the final lease agreement. “It is signed, sealed and delivered!” said Mitchell.

The City Council and Health Board have met numerous times over several months in an attempt to finalize a lease agreement that both sides were comfortable signing.  The Health Center is the first entity to move forward with construction at the Rose Avenue Project site.  It is anticipated that the Vernonia Senior Center and Vernonia Cares Food Bank will relocate to the site sometime in the future.

An Opinion: Council Needs to Finalize Lease With Health Board

The Vernonia City Council and the Vernonia Health Board have been working to negotiate a lease agreement for property the City controls, so the Health Board can begin construction of the new health clinic facility.  The Health Board had hoped to break ground on their new facility in early February, but after the last City Council meeting on February 18, there was still no agreement on the use of the property, and so, construction has been unable to proceed.

Both groups have been working hard over the last several months to find common ground and iron out the details of what will be a fifty year agreement.  The two sides have discussed potential uses, length of the lease, what happens if the lease ends suddenly and other, often sticky points.  One by one they have reached agreement on almost every point, although the discussions have often become somewhat contentious and personalities seem to be getting in the way.

One item the two sides haven’t agreed on yet is rent for the property, although the Health Board maintains they had an agreement for $1 per year.   This was a point of discussion by both the members of the Health Board during “Topics From the Floor” and by Council during the City Administrator Report at the February 18 meeting.   Read More

Vernonia Health Center Update

The Vernonia Health Center Board had much to be thankful for this November. Two grants towards the rebuilding of the  clinic out of  the  flood-way were awarded.  Meyer Memorial Trust announced a  commitment of $300,000 to move the project forward. The second grant of $35,000.00 comes from Oregon Community Foundation.  Both foundations have been instrumental in supporting this community’s recovery from the flood.  Oregon Community Foundation was a contributor to the new schools and Meyer Memorial Trust provided matching funds for local families to raise their homes. These two grants bring the Vernonia Health Center Board very close to their $1.3 million dollar goal. Ground breaking is planned for after the first of the year.  Read More

Vernonia Health Board Announces Pacific University Partnership

The Vernonia Health Board has announced that they are beginning an exciting new partnership with Pacific University.

The Vernonia Health Board has developed an innovative health care model for providing rural health care.  That model includes the  creation of a three way partnership with Pacific University in addition to the Public Health Foundation of Columbia County, with whom the Health Board already has a working relationship.  The partnerships and new operating model are designed to provide long term  and sustainable health care for the Vernonia community.

The partnership with Pacific University has already begun at the current Health Center.  It will expand when the new Vernonia Health Center opens next year as part of the Rose Avenue Project.  Read More

New Health Clinic is Making More Progress

HealthClinic-webThere is more news to report on the progress of the new Vernonia Health Center facility which will be built as part of the Rose Avenue Project.

The Vernonia Health Board is scheduled to go in front of the  Vernonia Planning Commission for the first time for a  Public Hearing on Thursday October 17, 2013 at 7:00 PM.  The Health Board is seeking approval of their site plan for construction of the new facility.  The Planning Commission will consider the planned building exterior, vehicle access, parking lot and other improvements on the site. The Health Board will also ask for a lot line adjustment so they have a clearly defined project on the Rose Avenue site.

“Our planning is going well,” said Heather Lewis, spokesperson for the Health Board.  “Our plan has our street improvement requirements, our parking requirements, how the utilities will be pulled into our building, and our own storm water storage collection.  Our documents have been accepted by the city Building Department as complete and we’re excited to be going before the Planning Commission and moving forward.” Read More