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Baker County Collaborative Partnership Cited as Rural Health Care Model

04/05/10  Baker City, OR

The county’s health department and Eastern Oregon Medical Associates has helped to improve childhood immunization rates in the area.

The partnership between the Baker County Health Department and Eastern Oregon Medical Associates (EOMA) has been cited as a model of collaboration by the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN).

The partnership was cited at ORPRN’s recent convocation in Portland for its success in improving childhood immunization rates in eastern Oregon. It was one of three such rural partnerships recognized for their work to improve health care in their areas. The others were partnerships in Lincoln County and Malheur County.

Jon Schott, M.D., the Baker County Health Officer and managing partner of EOMA, and Becky Sanders, RN, nursing supervisor in the Baker County Health Department, were singled out for commendation at the convocation. Sanders was a catalyst in implementing the collaborative partnership and ensuing changes in care delivery. Staff members from the county’s health department now are present two days per month on well-child days at the EOMA clinic to deliver immunizations as well as flu vaccines during flu season.

“Childhood immunizations are a key preventive health service,” said ORPRN Network Director Lyle J. Fagnan, M.D. “It has been estimated that they prevent 33,500 premature deaths and 14.3 million cases of vaccine-preventable illnesses for each 4 million children born annually in the U.S.”

Many infectious diseases that were once common in the United States, including polio, measles, diphtheria, pertussis (whooping cough), rubella (German measles), mumps, tetanus, and influenza can be controlled or prevented by vaccines. But the viruses and bacteria that cause them still exist and can be passed on to people who are not protected.

EOMA was a participant in the Rural Oregon Immunization Initiative (ROII), a recently completed ORPRN study which provided an opportunity, said Fagnan, to test in the heterogeneous environment of rural Oregon some of the principles of the evolving high-performing, patient-centered medical neighborhood concept that medical practices nationwide are moving toward. These principles include education, enhanced communication, open scheduling, expanded hours, coordinated and integrated care across health systems and community services, health information exchange, evidence-based medicine, and information technology supports.

About Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN)
ORPRN’s mission is to improve the health of rural populations in Oregon by conducting and promoting health research through partnerships with communities and health care providers across the state. Founded in 2002, the Network currently consists of 49 primary care practices in 37 Oregon communities. It collaborates with researchers and other health professionals at OHSU, public health agencies and community organizations to develop research studies and quality improvement initiatives. Current ORPRN studies focus on medication safety, chronic disease prevention, practice redesign, child behavioral health, dementia screening, preventive services, women’s health in pregnancy, and childhood immunizations.

About OHSU
Oregon Health & Science University is the state’s only health and research university, and Oregon’s only academic health center. OHSU is Portland's largest employer and the fourth largest in Oregon (excluding government). OHSU's size contributes to its ability to provide many services and community support activities not found anywhere else in the state. It serves patients from every corner of the state, and is a conduit for learning for more than 3,400 students and trainees. OHSU is the source of more than 200 community outreach programs that bring health and education services to every county in the state.