October 19, 2001 11:00 pm
ANOTHER INCH: Cherrie Records, coordinator of the new health clinic, checks the height of Jamie Brown during a visit to the clinic. The clinic is located in a building constructed by students on the grounds of Powder Valley High. (KATHY ORR photos).
ANOTHER INCH: Cherrie Records, coordinator of the new health clinic, checks the height of Jamie Brown during a visit to the clinic. The clinic is located in a building constructed by students on the grounds of Powder Valley High. (KATHY ORR photos).

By Christina Wood

For The Observer

NORTH POWDER The problem with living in any small, rural community is access particularly access to medical care.

Living on the border between two counties is also a challenge for the community of North Powder. Residents are just within the border of Union County, but are slightly closer to Baker City by road. It is also easier in bad weather to go south rather than brave Ladd Canyon or the back roads through Union drifted with snow.

Until recently, residents had no choice, however, if someone needed to see a doctor. They had to drive 20 or more miles either way.

At least that was until the Health Network for Rural Schools opened the North Powder Family Resource and Referral Centers in Union County.

With a focus on preventative medicine, the center wont eliminate the need to travel for

emergency care and physician


But for residents of the five communities HNRS will serve Cove, Elgin, Imbler, Union and North Powder a nurse and nurse-practitioner are now more available than they were a year ago.

And other opportunities, like regular visits by representatives of state service agencies, will further reduce the need for North Powder residents to leave their community to get the help they need.

Students build building

The North Powder center was built by students of the high school at no cost to the local residents. Students built most of the building as part of their vocational classes. Materials were donated, or paid for by grants. The Oregon Health Sciences University provided a grant. All the medical office equipment was donated by a physician in the Portland area who was


Cherrie Records is the center coordinator. Were still learning what it is we are supposed to do, she said.

The centers nurse practitioner is Vickie Hill-Brown. She is available for a half day each week. The registered nurse, Michele Misener, is available one full day a week. Aylee Welch of Powder Valley Schools

is the on-site mental health


Each week there are different people available at the center to give assistance with a multitude of needs. There is also outreach from various agencies. Staff members from Adult & Family Services, for example, help people apply for food stamps or assist with paperwork for the Oregon Health Plan.

Others may provide domestic violence information or legal aid. They can also inform people on the availability of drug and alcohol treatment.

There are programs for babies, children and families. Immunizations are available through the clinic as well as literacy help and parent education. Whatever support the family needs can be found at the clinic, or clients can be referred to the proper agencies in other towns.

Each month we will try to feature a special topic of interest, Records said. October is Depression Screening Month; we had a theater workshop in September. Right now we are still seeking volunteers to do other programs.

The center opened last year in borrowed space as a resource center and moved into its new building in early September for full service.

Program still new

Records said many of these services are new to North Powder, and there is some resistance.

This community is so stressed economically, but very proud, she said. Residents dont want a handout, just a hand up, she added.

Records grew up in North Powder, but left for many years. Ive lived in big cities and like others, I like it here. I used to have to have a manicure to go to work; now I have paint under my nails, she said with a chuckle.

Records said she has spent most of her time learning the ins and outs of all available service agencies in Union County.

She has spent time at Adult & Family Services; at Shelter From the Storm, the La Grande domestic violence service; Legal Aid, the drug and alcohol treatment services; and at the housing authority, learning how each agency works, how to fill out the forms and what is the eligibility for services all information needed by the people of North Powder.

And whats even better, the services are free and confidential. The clinic is at 333 G St., next to the Powder Valley High School. The clinic phone number is 541-898-2244.

Records is available Monday from noon to 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from noon to 3:30 p.m. It is always best to call ahead and leave a voice message. Her extension is 288, and she checks for messages frequently.