Thanks to three new generous grants, Oregon Health & Science University patients and students will benefit from programs serving rural communities on Oregon’s South Coast.
The Judith Ann Mogan Foundation, a Coos Bay, Oregon-based philanthropy launched in 2020, made three philanthropic gifts totaling $240,000 aimed at helping patients living in Coos and Curry Counties access specialized OHSU care as well as help recruit future health care professionals to the region.
Financial support for patients with cancer from the Southern Oregon Coast
Approximately 400 people from Coos and Curry Counties, many of whom have experienced increased financial strain or housing insecurity during the COVID-19 pandemic, have traveled to receive cancer treatment at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute.
Recognizing the financial burdens and limited housing options many patients who need to travel for care face, this grant provides patient support funds to ease the physical and emotional strain for patients and their families. Specifically, the $25,000 grant will help cover housing and travel expenses, medication assistance and other emergency needs for those most in need from Coos and Curry Counties.
“With this generous funding, patients who need to travel for their care are able to receive the most advanced, individualized care at the Knight Cancer Institute,” said Susan Hedlund, M.S.W., director of patient and family support services at the OHSU Knight Cancer Institute. “The resources from the Patient Support Fund will offer patients and their families the ability to navigate the unique and often complex issues that affect their treatment journey.”
Expanding efforts to remove the barriers between children, families and better health
Having a child with a complex health condition, such as diabetes, chronic pain or cystic fibrosis, is challenging under any circumstance. However, when a family is also impacted by social determinants of health like employment, food or housing insecurity or unreliable transportation, young patients may be at greater risk for adverse health outcomes.
Since 2011, Novel Interventions in Child Healthcare, or NICH, at OHSU Doernbecher Children’s Hospital, has worked with community programs and regional insurance providers to improve care, reduce costs and advance health for youth whose medical needs are compounded by social challenges. NICH fills the gap in the continuum of care and serves primarily youth from underserved and underrepresented populations.
At no cost to the family, the young patient is paired with a NICH interventionist who serves as a ‘command central’ in helping families with social challenges manage their child’s health, find resources in meeting day-to-day needs, and navigating a complex and confusing health care system.
With a grant from the Mogan Foundation, totaling more than $200,000 over the course of three years, NICH will expand its services to Coos and Curry Counties. Beginning January 2022, patients up to age 18 – who live on Oregon’s South Coast - will have 24-hour access to NICH interventionists who will help to create more opportunities to build trusting relationships between families and their providers.
“When a family’s day-to-day needs are not met, it can become impossible to care for a child living with a chronic health condition,” said Michael Harris, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics in the OHSU School of Medicine, and director of NICH. “Through NICH, we work to remove barriers to care – whether its access to medication or medical equipment, transportation to an appointment, or language support – to ensure more patients and families, including those on the South Coast, have better access to the health care services they require and deserve.”
Exposing OHSU Campus for Rural Health students to benefits of working, living on South Coast
Like many rural areas, the South Coast has a shortage of health care providers in primary care, dental care and mental health care for low-income and other underserved populations. OHSU’s Campus for Rural Health offers OHSU students studying a variety of health professions the chance to experience rural medicine with clinical rotations, community-based projects and collaborative housing in Coos Bay and elsewhere in the state. Health learners who complete rural training are more likely to work in a rural area after graduation.
To highlight the many benefits of living on the South Coast for visiting OHSU students, this $15,000 grant provides recreational equipment to expose students to the incredible outdoor opportunities as well as the advantages of living and working in Coos and Curry counties. The grant will support local outdoor equipment businesses by purchasing kayaks, paddleboards, camping gear, clam digging equipment and bikes, all of which will be used by OHSU students.
“The OHSU Campus for Rural Health helps students experience the unique benefits of being a rural healthcare provider,” said Megan Holland, M.D., regional associate dean for the OHSU Campus for Rural Health’s South Coast campus. “Recreation is one way OHSU students can also experience the beauty of living on the South Coast. We hope this new equipment helps our graduates fall in love with the area as much as we have - and ultimately decide to live and work here.”