Three of Samaritan Health Services'
five affiliated hospitals are designated as rural facilities; so we have partnered with the Office of Rural Health to form special collaborations that would address the particular needs of rural residents. The partnerships, known as Community Health Improvement Partnerships (CHIPs), have been active in Lincoln County (where Samaritan North Lincoln and Samaritan Pacific Communities hospitals are located) since 2002 and in east Linn County (where Samaritan Lebanon Community Hospital is located) since 2003.
Immediately following their inauguration, the partnerships worked to formally gather input from nearly 100 community leaders and stakeholders to identify — and discuss ways to close — local health care gaps.
In Lincoln County, the identified CHIP priorities are:
- Children's health
- School-based health clinics
- Chronic disease management
- Affordable health insurance
- Healthy communities promotion
- Access/referral to health services
In east Linn County, the identified CHIP priorities are:
- Teen health
- Mental health
- Affordable health care
- Health education
- Prevention/healthy communities promotion
- Urgent care
Here are some of the ways CHIP mobilizes energy and resources to address these priorities:
The four school-based health clinics in Lincoln County had lost state funding and were in danger of closing their doors. By using data from their original health care gap assessment, the CHIP partners were able to leverage initial CHIP seed money for bridge funding and other grants to keep all four centers operational.
The Lincoln County CHIP also sponsors a children's health fair that provides free immunizations. It also applied for and was selected (as was east Linn County) to be one of Oregon's pilot-site counties for the Healthy Community initiative, a designation that already has provided partnership leaders with training in ways to make their community more walking- and bicycling-friendly. The partnership also purchased videos and books to help people learn about diabetes. It is working with the Kellogg Foundation to look at school-based clinics and with Lincoln County businesses to promote a national walking program called America On The Move.
Additional Lincoln County projects include:
- Applying for and receiving a grant from the Office of Rural Health to work with high school media departments to produce theater-related activities encouraging self-esteem and good decision making among local teens.
- Working with the Parish Nurse Program to set up classes to help parents initiate parent-teen talks. This was a result of hearing parents express a need for tools to help them talk to their children about sex and other teen behavioral concerns.
- Working with Medical Teams International to provide needed dental services.
The east Linn County CHIP is working to support Linn County's Healthy Active Oregon Partnership in Lebanon and Sweet Home, with several projects underway. Under the umbrella of CHIP, the Healthy Active Lebanon coalition and Sweet Home Healthy Active Partnership have several ongoing projects, from fruit and vegetable of the month campaigns to bicycle repair clubs.
Additional partnerships and projects include:
- Local Pick Of The Month initiative in Lebanon, in coordination with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The initiative supports local farmers and growers, and it educates residents on the importance of increased fruits and vegetables in the diet. Through promotional activities, it educates residents about a different fruit or vegetable every month.
- Planting Seeds of Change, a program begun in 2008 that is teaching middle school students to garden, harvest nutritious food, eat healthy and avoid obesity and chronic diseases. The project is made possible through the efforts of dozens of volunteers and donors, including Master Gardeners and local businesses.
- Get in Gear bicycle repair club in Sweet Home, in partnership with the Sweet Home School District
- Lunch Buddy programs at schools in Lebanon and Sweet Home, in partnership with the Mid-Willamette Family YMCA
- Build Lebanon Trails, a citizen group committed to building a network of paved trails and paths throughout Lebanon to promote exercise.
- Transportation Ride Line Brokerage, in partnership with Cascades West Council of Governments. The brokerage offers transportation for east Linn residents on the Oregon Health Plan to medical appointments.
- Lebanon Communities That Care, a community effort to develop a plan addressing substance abuse and preventing violence among youth.
- Teen Parent Task Force, a community effort in Sweet Home to mentor teen parents, identify barriers for them and coordinate local services and resources to reach them.
Still in the works for both the Lincoln County and east Linn County CHIPS is a pediatric summit to discuss childhood obesity. Also, work continues with the Parish Nurse Program and SHS staff to offer Living Well With Chronic Conditions classes for local residents.