How we help

These stories tell how we are working together to meet community needs and keep people healthy.

Providence family clinics treat food insecurity ››
A special place for parents of children with special needs ››
Providence nourishes families with fresh fruits and vegetables ››
Caring for those in mental health crisis on Oregon’s north coast ››
Providence promotores bridge a culture gap ››
Investing in the community ››
Providence chefs mentor at-risk youth ››
First breast milk bank opens in Northwest Portland ››

Providence family clinics treat food insecurity

Southeast 82nd Avenue and Milwaukie Clinics ask parents if they have enough money to buy food for their children. A Patient Navigator then interviews the family and connects them with community resources like The Oregon Food Bank to provide food security. 

A special place for parents of children with special needs

Kathy Keesee knows the needs of her community. As a mother of a child with special needs, an outspoken advocate for the Hispanic community and the supervisor for the Providence Swindells Southern Oregon Resource Center, Kathy hears every day from people who need access to information, health care and support.

As explained in the Providence Minute video series, the Swindells Center is the place parents can go when they need support of any kind for a special needs child. Some parents reach out as soon as they receive a diagnosis, others only reach out when they’ve reached a breaking point. There are also families who come to Swindells and Kathy Keesee before seeing a doctor – perhaps after a teacher mentions something may be wrong with their child.

The video series highlights the services offered through the resource center and explains that all populations are welcome. It provides Kathy with a tool that lets the community know she’s there for them with support, information about access to caregivers and educational opportunities parents won’t find in other settings. 

Providence nourishes families with fresh fruits and vegetables

Providence Medford Medical Center has partnered with the Medford Farmers Market to offer the Fresh Rewards Program. Fresh Rewards offers those who have Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (a government assistance program to help low-income households buy food) a monetary incentive match to buy fresh fruits and vegetables. The Fresh Rewards incentive is offered every Saturday at the Medford Farmers Market on The Commons and matches the first $6 redeemed by Oregon Trail Card users.

For many families who benefit from food stamp programs, creating healthy meals on a budget can be a challenge. Providence is committed to helping those families purchase healthy ingredients and learn how to use them. That’s why, in addition to offering funds for the matching incentive program, Providence also offers cooking classes and online recipes. 

In the news

Caring for those in mental health crisis on Oregon’s north coast

Providence Seaside Hospital is playing a significant role in an innovative community collaborative to solve a long-standing health issue in the North Coast area – respite care for individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis such as extreme anxiety, depression, and mental disorientation or suicidal thoughts. Instead of transporting patients out of the area or using space in our hospital emergency departments, a new 16-bed facility in Warrenton will care for adults in crisis situations.

Providence Seaside Hospital has contributed more than $70,000 for equipment to support the new facility in Warrenton that was purchased by Greater Oregon Behavior Health, Inc. Other community health providers include: Clatsop Behavioral Health, Clatsop County Public Health, Columbia Memorial Hospital, and Columbia Pacific Coordinated Care Organization. The organizational leaders discussed the problem and realized no one partner could address it on its own.

The center, which has yet to be named, is expected to be open in early spring 2015. It will accept walk-in patients from Clatsop, Columbia and Tillamook counties, as well as referrals from local police departments, hospitals and medical clinics. The new center will accept Oregon Health Plan members and many other insurance plans. 

Providence promotores bridge a culture gap

When Eduardo Hernandez needed a checkup but couldn’t afford one now that he’s retired, the Providence Promotores Clinic was there to help.

“I discovered I don’t have insurance and they took my blood pressure and found it was pretty high,” Eduardo explains. He and other low-income Latinos are bringing their health concerns to St. Cecilia Catholic School in Beaverton and other locations throughout Washington County and in nearby Yamhill County.

Providence sponsors clinics in two Washington County parishes and three in Yamhill County through the Providence Promotores Program, improving access to affordable care. Nearly 200 trained health promoters volunteered their time and efforts in 2014, sharing health education to new, Spanish-speaking members of their communities, thereby increasing their access to health care. And they did it with a passion.

Delfina Hernandez, Parish Health Program coordinator, knows of the community’s needs and understands that gaining access to care is often a problem because of a language barrier. Providence has helped local parishes do what they’ve wanted to do – open doors to health care services for people who would otherwise go without.

If the clinic at St. Cecilia’s were not available, 60 percent of community members said they would not seek treatment elsewhere. They appreciate the eye-to-eye contact with the nurse practitioner. They felt they had more of a connection because of that eye contact than when they go to the doctor’s office and the physician is doing many things simultaneously and not really looking at them.

Technology also helps connect the patients with providers. Using special equipment such as a stethoscope equipped with Bluetooth technology, a medical assistant can send the patient’s heart beat to a nurse.

The parish volunteers, using the Providence model of care, are building a bridge between their Latino community and an affordable health care system. What’s more, the Promotores Program offers peace of mind while building a healthier community. 

Investing in the community

Agencies in the Columbia River Gorge feel “we’re in this together” after working with Paul Lindberg, an independent community impact health specialist. The work is grant writing with a twist, funded by Providence with $80,000 in community benefit resources. Functioning as a catalyst and convener, Lindberg is a resource for local non-profit organizations and turns their individual aspirations into new and expanded partnerships and programs for the community. Grants awarded in 2014 now serve the area’s 200 most complex users of the Oregon Health Plan (Medicaid) in a variety of ways. This includes providing advocacy for hundreds of low-income housing tenants, helping to train more than 60 teachers and staff in trauma-informed care,  certifying 25 new community health workers and assisting with plans for a school-based health center.

For every dollar invested by Providence, nine dollars in crucial grant funding came back to the Gorge area in 2014. With six grants awarded for $350,000 and consulting services provided to procure another $280,000, the bar has been set high for 2015. Lindberg reviewed more than 40 requests for proposals during the year and also supported development for existing community programs. It is hard to believe there is time for more, but Lindberg also advises the local Coordinated Care Organization on processes and procedures to provide transformation funds to the community. 

Providence chefs mentor at risk youth

For 18 at-risk students, their classroom isn’t a typical one – it’s a commercial kitchen and Providence chefs are their teachers. Working with Providence Health & Services executive chefs, Clackamas Technical Education Consortium students are introduced to careers in hospitality and the culinary arts. Just like any school, there are final exams, but this final is a little different. They’re learning to make knife cuts, cater events and of course, cook. The students are also learning responsibility and skills that will help them gain confidence outside the kitchen, thanks to Providence’s advanced training in hospitality program.

Alex Sotnikoz is a 19-year-old student in the program and his final exam will be to prepare a pork tenderloin. Alex gives all the credit to the volunteer chefs from the kitchens of Providence hospitals.

“They’re always there to help. Always there to share something new,” he explains. “They care about us and we care about them.”

“I’m really proud to be working with this team of chefs because they give so much of themselves,” says Kaz Naidoo, Providence regional executive chef. “They’re so compassionate toward the students and their backgrounds and their stories, and the chefs want to make a difference and that just comes from that love for what you do. They want to share their passion.”

Providence chefs teach teens and young adults not only how to chop an onion, but how to get and keep a job.

“The students learn the importance of showing up on time, how to work hard, the work ethic, how to stand out, and what employers want in an employee,” says Martin Pedersen, Providence Milwaukie executive chef. “Teamwork is also important in a kitchen and in life.”

“I learned to cook and that was wonderful, but I learned how to be more responsible and follow deadlines a lot more,” says Alisha Hays, a C-TEC student. “I’ve learned responsibility, that’s very important, especially when it comes to cooking other people’s food.”

The students in the program have been taught that you may start out in food service, but you don’t know where life’s roads will take you and skills learned here can open many doors. 

First breast milk bank opens in Northwest Portland

Providence had been leading the way in breast milk donation for years, opening the first donation depot at Providence Newberg Medical Center in 2009. Now, we are home to the first breast milk bank in the state, making distributions from Providence. Gifts of donated breast milk can make a lifesaving difference for some of our tiniest patients.

In 2008, a passionate group of lactation professionals and interested community supporters met with one goal in mind: establish a human donor milk bank to serve the Northwest. These volunteers worked for five years to raise funds, gather community support, increase the use of donor milk and develop the infrastructure of a working milk bank. In July 2013, the Northwest Mothers Milk Bank officially opened its doors to accept milk donations and began pasteurizing and distributing milk thanks in part to support from Providence.

The milk bank is housed at Providence Sunset Medical Plaza. The prescreened donors bring their extra milk to the clinic, where it is pasteurized and distributed to area hospitals.

“I want every baby to have the chance to have breast milk,” says Air Duke, a breast milk donor. “The second I became a mom I knew breast milk was the way to go, and the fact that I have extra to share is a blessing.”

Tera Henderson, mother of premature twins, was appreciative of the bank because she was unable to produce it for her babies. One of the twins, Wyatt, couldn’t take formula as it irritated his intestines, causing bleeding.

“I strongly believe the breast milk was healing enough and gentle enough to get him to point where he could process the formula,” Tera says. “I’m grateful to those who donated their milk. It really made a difference for my family.”