April 19, 2013

Multnomah County will open a new health clinic and pharmacy for southeast Portland residents on Monday, April 22.

The Southeast Health Center, 3653 S.E. 34th, will now offer primary care, behavioral health, pharmacy, laboratory and other support services in addition to the existing dental clinic at that location.

County leaders including Chair Cogen, Commissioners Deborah Kafoury and Judy Shiprack, and Health Department Director Shirley unveiled the much-improved center at a ribbon-cutting Friday, April 19.

Nine years after budget cuts forced the closure of a primary care clinic at the site, Multnomah County is responding to changes in the Portland area and the health care system. An increasing number of the city’s homeless live in southeast Portland. Nearly one-third of Southeast residents lack health insurance altogether, the Multnomah County Health Department reports. Yet there are few safety net clinics in the area.

“We are here because the neighborhood needs us,’’ said Chair Jeff Cogen.

The new clinic will serve up to 3,000 patients the first year, and up to 6,000 by year three, said Health Department Director Lillian Shirley.

The opening is also the result of a unique collaboration by this region’s health partners. The county was able to shift resources to Southeast Portland because of a partnership with Central City Concern. Central City has welcomed a number of primary care clients downtown, allowing the county to close its Westside Health Center in the McCoy Building and refocus on southeast Portland. (The county will continue to operate the Billi Odegaard Dental Clinic downtown along with the Westside Pharmacy.)

CareOregon, Kaiser Permanente and Providence Health & Services each contributed significantly to the center’s capital costs. Kaiser and Providence also provided support for the first year of operations. Multnomah County provided $800,000 of the $1.7 million renovation.

The county saluted the neighborhood’s rich diversity with a special performance by community members who practice a medley of Tai Chi and swordsmanship and who frequently perform at the Asian Health & Service Center.