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To Serve the Underserved
The Klamath Open Door Family Practice has a simple mission: to serve the underserved in the Klamath Basin. Simple but not easy. They serve almost 10,000 people every year on a modest budget with a small staff. How do they do it?
“Being passionate about the community,” Kim Petersen, the clinic’s chief operations officer says. “You don’t go into community health to get rich. You do it because you care.”
The clinic provides an essential safety net for members of the community who might
not otherwise have access to healthcare.
The Klamath Open Door Family Practice is a full scope family practice health clinic that serves about one third of the Klamath Falls population. It provides medical care, dental, mental health, care coordinators and outreach for other services for patients who might not otherwise have access. The clinic charges for services on a sliding scale based on a person’s ability to pay, serving all walks of life and not turning anyone away. There’s a strong commitment to serving more vulnerable members of the community. People with mental health issues, substance abuse issues or low income will find the help they need at the clinic.
Opening the Door to Health Coverage
One of the Open Door team’s greatest recent successes was their effort to sign up as many people as possible for health insurance after Cover Oregon and the Affordable Care Act went into effect.
“For a time when the state quit funding, we were really the only show in town that was helping people sign up for the Affordable Care Act,” Petersen says. “Everybody was sending their people here and we were signing them up for coverage through Cover Oregon and through the federal website. Even though we’re not really an insurance exchange, we walked them through the portal and helped them sign up”
In just 90 days, the Open Door staff helped 9,000 people apply for health insurance. Before the health insurance sign up effort, 27 percent of the clinic’s patients were on a sliding scale because they were uninsured and couldn’t afford the full cost of services. After the effort, the number of sliding scale patients dropped to just 5 percent because those patients had health insurance coverage. In fact, the clinic signed so many people up for health insurance that there weren’t enough doctors in the area to see all the newly-covered patients.
A Legacy of Passion for the Community
Kim Petersen has been involved in community-centered health care for her entire career, but that career is turning a new chapter, and she’s moving on to a new challenge at another local clinic. Petersen says she will miss her old team on South 6th, but she’s confident that the Open Door Family team will get along just fine without her.
“Our staff is driven by the same passion and concern for the community,” Kim says.
It’s a passion that has inspired Klamath Open Door Family Practice all along and the driving force behind fulfilling the clinic’s mission: serving the underserved.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Cal-Ore is proud to help the clinic achieve its mission by providing critical internet and phone services to this keystone of the community. During the last year, Cal-Ore installed our high-speed fiber internet at the main clinic, and extended data and phone connections into the new building.