The start of something exciting

dehart-111513Sharon DeHart anchors health care services in south Wasco County

When Sharon DeHart, PA-C '01, moved to rural Maupin, Ore., in 2007 to open a clinic, the site was little more than a small building on a bluff overlooking the Deschutes River. But it was the start of something exciting: A health care facility was finally coming to the communities of south Wasco County.

Maupin is best known for its world-class fishing and whitewater rafting. Now, thanks to the work of DeHart and other members in the community, the town is also known for the services provided by the Deschutes Rim Health Clinic, a primary care clinic with approximately 700 regular patients.

The clinic's only full-time provider, DeHart performs many of the day-to-day clinical and administrative procedures.

"It's true that resources are limited in Maupin," said DeHart, who is also the health district manager. "But when it comes down to it, practicing medicine in a rural setting is only limited by the mind of the provider. I am trained to provide and punt. If I can't find a resource, I figure out how to provide that service. Sometimes that means referring patients to a clinic in a larger town like The Dalles, for example, where OHSU resources are steadily becoming available."

Resourceful also means collaborative. DeHart recently partnered with OHSU's Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN) in a study to assess health information technology (HIT) workflow: collecting quality measures, coordination of care, using disease registries, using patient portals or implementing a new electronic health record. (Learn more about ORPRN in the sidebar.)

Results of the study have had a profound impact on DeHart's clinic, which is now using some of the workflows to improve quality of care.

After graduating from OHSU in 2001, DeHart's career path took her through the fast-paced rigors of corporate medicine, working along the I-5 corridor between Portland and Corvallis. It was not a career trajectory she was enjoying, and she decided to return to her small town roots.

"I understand the rural Oregon mentality, the lifestyle and the types of adjustments people make when living away from the conveniences of a large city like Portland or Eugene," she said. "I belong here, helping people in this area."


What is ORPRN?

OHSU's Oregon Rural Practice-based Research Network (ORPRN) seeks to improve the health of Oregon's rural populations by conducting and promoting health research in partnership with communities and practitioners.

Through its HIT study and other research projects, ORPRN is a resource for disseminating best clinical practices and facilitating practice transformation throughout Oregon.

"This type of work demonstrates the value of collaboration between OHSU and community clinics," said Lyle Fagnan, M.D., '71 professor of family medicine and ORPRN director. "The results yield signifi cant benefi ts for Oregon's rural practitioners and their patients."

Learn more at