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Lincoln County Community Health Improvement Partnership Cited as Model

04/05/10  Lincoln County, OR

Lincoln County’s Community Health Improvement Partnership (CHIP) has been cited as a model of collaboration between rural primary care practices and clinicians conducting medical research.

The Lincoln CHIP was one of three such partnerships commended by the Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN) at its recent convocation in Portland. The others were partnerships in Baker County and Malheur County.

Singled out for special mention was its work on the RxSafe study, a three-year project with ORPRN to improve patient safety by using information technology to help doctors, nurses and pharmacists reconcile and correct sometimes dangerous discrepancies among medication lists that patients, particularly the elderly, accumulate from a variety of health care providers.

Health care professionals at the Samaritan Health Services North Lincoln Hospital in Lincoln City, its Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport, and the Lincoln City Medical Center (LCMC) have been working on the project with a multidisciplinary team of researchers from Oregon Health & Science University, Oregon State University, Portland State University and ORPRN.

RxSafe is funded by the federal Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ). Karl Ordelheide, M.D., an internist and partner at LCMC, has served as principal investigator on the study and Esther Schwartz, a community volunteer and chair of the North Lincoln County Health District Board who works closely with Samaritan Health Services, was chair of the community advisory board for the project.

Another achievement cited at the ORPRN convocation was the CHIP’s success in engaging seven primary care practices throughout Lincoln County, including LCMC, in a learning collaborative aimed at spreading the lessons of the Chronic Care Model. This construct provides a framework for improving the management of chronic health conditions such as diabetes, asthma and high blood pressure by moving from reactive health care protocols to proactive ones. It stresses coordinated interdisciplinary care, planned follow-ups, self-management training and lifestyle changes.

Ordelheide and his wife, Bobbi, a registered nurse, are working on an ORPRN study using IT to manage a group of their patients with several chronic illnesses through an integrated care coordination system.

Recognized at the convocation for their contributions to ORPRN were Ordelheide, Schwartz, and Karen Bondley, the CHIP coordinator for Lincoln County, who has been working in the rural health field for nearly two decades.

CHIPs such as the one in Lincoln County are part of a community development process that engages rural communities in Oregon to improve local health care systems and improve the health of area residents. The solutions that CHIPs devise are unique to the community because they are created by local residents who know what will work best for them and their neighbors.

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.