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DHS news release

August 19, 2005


Contact: Trish Neiworth, DHS Public Affairs (503) 881-6100 (cell)

Program contact: Daniel Ward, La Clinica del Carino (541) 308-8354


Governor praises clinic for milestones serving Gorge residents



Clinics in The Dalles and Hood River that serve low-income Columbia Gorge residents on Friday were congratulated by Governor Ted Kulongoski for two anniversaries.


"On behalf of all Oregonians, I congratulate and thank La Clinica del Carino on its first anniversary of providing medical and dental services in The Dalles and for delivering nearly 20 years of service to Oregonians," Kulongoski said.


La Clinica del Carino -- its Spanish name translates roughly as "the caring clinic" -- opened its Hood River facility in 1986, and Friday celebrated its first year in The Dalles with an open house for the community. Bryan Johnston, Oregon Department of Human Services director, represented the governor at Friday's event.


"The professionals who staff these clinics make a dramatic difference in the health and stability of thousands of low-income families," Kulongoski said. "They provide access to high-quality health care to people who otherwise might not have it while saving money delivering preventive care and early treatment to people who otherwise must rely on costly emergency room visits."


Most of the patients in the two clinics are either uninsured or have Medicaid coverage through the Oregon Health Plan.


Among the 40 patients a day seen in the clinic in The Dalles, some adults have undiagnosed chronic illnesses such as diabetes and many young children have serious dental needs.


"Without this medical treatment, many of these treatable problems would grow more painful, more dangerous and more expensive," said Governor Kulongoski.


A 2002 survey identified 174,000 migrant and seasonal farm workers and their dependents in Oregon, which exceeds the combined populations of Albany, Astoria, Coos Bay, Grants Pass, Klamath Falls, Ontario, Pendleton and Roseburg.


Although La Clinica opened in Hood River nearly 20 years ago as a migrant health clinic, it became a community health clinic in 1988 because fewer than half its patients were migrant or seasonal workers. The clinics also serve residents of adjacent Klickitat and Skamania counties in Washington.


A state survey conducted prior to La Clinica del Carino's opening in The Dalles showed three in five migrant and seasonal farm workers in Wasco County had not seen a physician in the prior 12 months.


About a third of La Clinica's patients speak only Spanish, and Kulongoski praised the clinic for employing a bicultural staff most of whom speak both English and Spanish.


"A visit to the doctor or dentist raises questions for all of us," Governor Kulongoski said. "It's important to have answers in a language we understand, particularly when dealing with important medical decisions."


La Clinica del Carino received a grant in 2003 to open its The Dalles clinic with support from DHS' Migrant Health Program. The 5,000-square-foot The Dalles facility is located in a 100-year-old former hospital building adjacent to the Wasco County Health Department.