The 22nd Annual Oregon Rural Health Conference, sponsored by the Oregon Office of Rural Health, OHSU's Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN)and Oregon Area Health Education Centers (AHEC),took place November 3 - 5, 2005 at the Sunriver Resort in Sunriver, Oregon.
Rural Oregon's Heartbeat — Living the Challenge featured presentations on the challenges facing rural Oregon communities in obtaining health care in today's environment.
Jo Johnson, Recruitment Services Coordinator at the Oregon Office of Rural Health, presented a Recruitment Workshop offering guidance in preparing for successful recruitment and retention of health care providers. Participants received ideas on how to make their practice opportunities competitive to practitioners searching for the ideal rural location to work and live.
A meeting of the Rural Healthcare Quality Network featured an expert on quality improvement for rural hospitals. Terry J. Hill, MPA, Executive Director of the Rural Health Resource Center in Duluth, Minnesota, spoke on the balanced scorecard approach to continuous quality improvement and how it can be applied to rural health care.
The concurrent sessions in the ORPRN track concentrated on best practices research and improving patient outcomes in rural communities. One of the most popular sessions, ORPRN Completed Research and Research in Process, discussed ORPRN's rural health research mission.
The Friday Welcome Reception honored retiring Vice Provost and Director of the Center of Rural Health, Karen Whitaker Knapp. During an open comment period, those working in rural health expressed their sadness at Knapp's departure after 15 years of leading OHSU's outreach mission to bring access to quality health care for rural Oregonians. Knapp was also honored by the Oregon Rural Health Association for her dedication to the Association.
That same evening the recipients of the Oregon Rural Conference Awards were honored. The Pine Eagle Clinic in Pine Valley received the Outstanding Rural Health Practice award. The Pine Eagle clinic was established in 1977 and meets the needs of eighty percent of the population in the area, including a large number of elderly patients who would not otherwise have ready access to medical care.
Mary Ann Carr, NP, of the Alsea Rural Health Clinic was honored as the Rural Health Practitioner of the Year. Carr has been with the clinic for 24 years and in that time has provided excellent care for her patients, mentored health care students and led the effort to construct a new building for the clinic.
The award for Outstanding Contribution to Rural Health in Oregon went to Lynne Matuk, RN Matuk, with help from her mother, established the now thriving Chiloquin Rural Health Clinic. While providing quality care for the area's residents who would otherwise not have access, Matuk is also a paramedic, a part time student pursuing her BSN and a single mom. Matuk shared the award with her mother for helping to bring low-cost subsidized health care to an area which serves about 8,000 in a 1,100 square mile service area.
The Rinehart Clinic's Charlene Toninato was the recipient of the Outstanding Clinic Administrator, Manager or Staff award. The award emphasized Toninato's irreplaceable value to the operations of the clinic. With hard work and persistence, she was able to turn around the financially troubled clinic.
The Dutch Reinschmidt Award for Outstanding Achievement in Rural Health Education was given to Dr. Peter Kohler, President, Oregon Health & Science University for his persistent promotion of rural health throughout the state and within the University. Dr. Kohler has maintained his dedication to assuring health care for rural communities for the last 17 years.
Karen Whitaker Knapp presented Lesley Hallick, PhD, Provost, Oregon Health & Science University, a special award of gratitude and appreciation for her unflinching, persistent and fearless support of the Oregon Office of Rural Health and rural Oregonians.
This annual gathering of rural healthcare providers, administrators, researchers and advocates provides a unique opportunity for networking and an exchange of ideas that can be hindered by distance during the rest of the year. We look forward to hosting the next annual Rural Health Conference, November 2 - 4, 2006 in Newport Oregon.
For more information, contact Robert Duehmig, (503) 494-4450.