Union has a lot going for it: low crime rate, natural beauty, Buffalo Peak Golf Course, the historic Union Hotel built in 1921, Victorian-era architecture, a Main Street commercial area that has acquired National Historic District status and many new businesses, and friendly and enterprising people.
The recent addition of a doctor to the Union Family Health Center helps the town build on its strengths. The announcement that family practitioner Kim Montee is giving up his private practice in La Grande in favor of public health work is good indeed. Dr. Montee already works as the medical director of the Elgin Family Clinic.
Community activists helped save both the Union and Elgin clinics when Oregon Health & Science University decided it could no longer operate them. The clinics are key pieces in the local health care picture and quality of life.
Sure, challenges remain to make the Elgin and Union clinics self- sustaining. Big challenges. Union, Cove and North Powder voters took a step toward a self-sustaining clinic last May by approving the formation of a non-profit district. Later this year comes the next big step. The South County Health District board will likely present a tax base proposal to those same voters as part of the fiscal blueprint for the Union clinic’s success.
For the values of community, family and the common good, the voters should get on board to make sure the clinic thrives. It’s a chance to invest in the community, and, as it were, to improve the neighborhood. It’s a chance to make a public investment to reach a long-term goal — affordable, accessible health care in not only La Grande but also in Union County’s smaller communities. Even in recessionary times, especially in recessionary times, a strong health care network is more important than ever.
Hiring a full-time staff doctor, and the opening of a dental clinic, shows that the Union clinic is well on its way to achieving economic self-sufficiency and fulfilling its mission in the community.
Union seems to be on a roll, with a lot of good things happening. Having a full-service clinic adds to the community’s recent successes.