Trish Yerges
The La Grande Observer

La Grande residents can participate in two mental health conferences hosted in Portland without ever leaving town.

Oregon Health and Science University’s Division of Continuing Provider Development will host conferences centered around pediatric and adult mental health on March 9 and March 16. Both conferences will include nationally renowned speakers and will be livestreamed to the Eastern Oregon University campus thanks to a partnership with the Northeast Oregon Area Health Education Center.

Meredith Lair, director of NEOAHEC, said the day-long medical conferences will be hosted by the OHSU School of Nursing in Badgley Hall, Room 304.

“This is the second annual (event) and last year, everyone had to go to Portland for it. This is the first time we’ve offered it in our region,” Lair said.

The livecast of the conferences will provide invaluable conveniences and savings, Lair said. She encourages Eastern Oregon providers to take advantage of this opportunity to ask questions of the Portland speakers and interact with other attendees from Eastern Oregon.

“It is offered in a way that (allows) providers in Eastern Oregon (to) take advantage of it,” Lair said. “The cost of driving to Portland is high, not to mention time out of clinics for providers or time away from classrooms for teachers.”

The livestreams will help rural providers stay abreast of the latest science and health care practices available to others in metropolitan cities.

Lair explained that in rural areas like Northeast Oregon, frontline providers, who deal with adult and pediatric mental health care, rely on the skills they develop at these Continued Medical Education events to treat patients because they don’t have mental health specialists to refer to here.

“It’s difficult to bring these kind of speakers to Eastern Oregon,” Lair said. “To have so many of them providing information through livestreaming is really unique, and we’re definitely capitalizing on our partnership with OHSU.”

Admission fees were made much more affordable due to the livecast from Portland.

Lair said that “NEOAHEC sponsors the events so instead of the provider paying $180 for both sessions, we’re just charging $25 to cover the cost of food.”

See complete story in Wednesday's Observer