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Chemistry plays a healthy role in Lincoln County

The science of chemistry plays a critical role in healthcare, but the other kind of chemistry – the one that emphasizes the rapport and connection between people – is equally important and on display at Lincoln Community Health Centers.

Inspired by National Health Center Week (Aug. 8 – 14) to celebrate this year’s theme – “The Chemistry of Strong Communities” – county officials know that at the root of effective care is a team of committed individuals working side-by-side.

“Empathy, strong communication, respect, trust, and shared decision making are essential in providing a positive patient-provider relationship,” explains Medical Director Amber Gross. “LCHC staff works together as a team with respect and appreciation of one another to provide the best quality care to our community and patients.”

LCHC delivers care to patients at clinics and school-based health centers around Lincoln County. Providers, nurses, medical assistants, community health workers, and support staff all play a critical role in the delivery of quality care.

Gross, a certified family nurse practitioner, transitioned into the role of medical director in June. She had been serving as associate medical director since 2020. She joined the LCHC medical team in 2015.

Charged with overseeing the medical team in primary care and behavioral health, Gross knows all too well that good chemistry means working together.

“We are respectful, we have fun, we love what we do, we work hard and smart, we do great things, we communicate and listen, we are helpful, we stay positive, we strive for excellence,” she emphasized, adding one last sentiment. “We are a team!”

On her primary care team are several providers, including Cheryl Hickethier, MD, and Jason Vang-Erickson, FNP, who are long-serving members of the medical staff. Joining them are two newer members – Corie Charnley, FNP, and Susan Speece, FNP.

Mary Jo Koschel, program manager at the Lincoln City location, says there is something special to celebrate this August.

“Over the past four years, we have had to utilize locums (temporary providers) and that is difficult for the patients and difficult for our staff. Starting this month, patients will be working with permanent providers in primary care,” she explained.

Additionally, Jamie Burris Fish, a family nurse practitioner that specializes in mental health, is also part of the provider team. Embedded into primary care, her presence allows families who have overlapping needs to enjoy a holistic approach to both mental and physical health.

The chemistry of a strong Lincoln County reaches beyond this group of providers to include others. The Lincoln Community Health Council is made up of a group of community members who provide guidance and support to LCHC sites and overall operations. As one requirement of a federally qualified health center, at least 51 percent of the council’s roster must be patients of the health center.

“We are always interested in welcoming new people to the health council,” said Valerie Davis, interim health center director. “It is a great opportunity for people to make a difference in the health of our collective community.” To inquire about serving on the health council, call (541) 265-0464.

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