Mid-Columbia Medical Center and Oregon Health & Science University Celebrate Five Years of Partnership in Making Local Healthcare More Accessible and Affordable

Mid-Columbia Medical Center believes in the value of partnerships as an effective way to understand and respond to the needs of the community. Now, as the hospital celebrates its five-year anniversary of its clinical collaboration with Oregon Health & Science University, it has reaffirmed that belief in the latest iteration of its strategic plan.

As healthcare continues to get more complex and as consumers continue to demand more accessibility, affordability and accountability, partnerships and various forms of collaborations are being recognized as an effective way to improve quality care and create true value for local patients, says Dennis Knox, president and CEO of MCMC. Our affiliation with OHSU is a wonderful example of two like-minded organizations working together to provide a more cost-effective way to expand the availability of primary, specialty and subspecialty care in our area so our patients can stay close to home for care whenever possible.

OHSU is Oregons only academic health center whose operations include three campuses, adult and childrens hospitals, clinics across the state, and state-of-the-art research facilities. The current alliance between MCMC and OHSU, first forged in 2014, is an outgrowth of several previous successful collaborations between the two organizations in cardiology and orthopedic care. Neither a merger nor an acquisition, MCMC remains an independent hospital overseen by a local board of directors.

Today all of the primary care providers at MCMC are part of OHSU. Knox says that by filling gaps in specialty care with highly trained members of the medical and teaching staffs of OHSU, hospital patients have local access to the breadth of specialists and other resources that might not typically be available in a community of our size. And as we embrace a new era of electronic health records, our alliance with OHSU ensures that patients who receive care both locally and at OHSU experience seamless treatment.

There have been other noticeable benefits to the alliance as well. Among these was MCMCs participation in the OHSU Telemedicine Network, which enabled local physicians to easily connect with OHSU specialists in ways that speed the decision-making process and enhance the care for long-distance consultations in a number of areas including stroke, pediatrics and newborn patients. As a result of this experience, MCMC went on to develop its own telemedicine program and is taking its specialty services to eastern Oregon, south central Washington and South Wasco County.

In OHSU we found a corps of physicians who believe, as we do, in empowering people to become partners in their healthcare and in the importance of professionalism, respect, dignity and confidentiality in all interpersonal relationships, said Knox. These are the same attributes we look for in any partnerships we may be fashioning with other healthcare organizations, community groups or civic leaders.

Toward that end, MCMC has established various collaborations with many like-minded healthcare organizations geared toward improving the delivery, quality and accessibility of local healthcare. In 2015 MCMC joined with 11 other local organizations to create the first integrated Columbia Gorge Regional Community Health Assessment. By combining social and economic conditions with key healthcare information, this assessment has built a prioritized set of needs for the region and has identified unique needs in specific locations or populations.

As the future unfolds, creative partnerships will be key to building a healthy community, not just for today but for tomorrow, says Knox. It is an important part of our value-system and our strategic plan as we look for even better ways to remove barriers to care, find best practices that enhance quality, enrich the patient experience and provide sound stewardship of our precious resources.

Founded in 1901 and located in The Dalles, Oregon, Mid-Columbia Medical Center is a nationally recognized hospital dedicated to serving residents of The Dalles and its surrounding communities. In 1992 MCMC became the first hospital in the nation to integrate the Planetree philosophy of patient care, which emphasizes the need to address a persons intellectual, environmental, emotional and spiritual concerns in addition to their physical needs. As a Planetree hospital, MCMC works to provide a caring, nurturing and educational environment; puts great efforts into humanizing and demystifying the medical experience; and strives to empower people to become active partners in their own healthcare. mcmc.net

Athena Miller
Mid-Columbia Medical Center
Marketing Manager
and Public Information Officer