Rural Lane County clinic to be rebuilt following wildfire
Three years after a health clinic in rural eastern Lane County burned down in the Holiday Farm Fire, it is finally being rebuilt.
The community of Blue River is home to the only primary healthcare clinic between Springfield and Sisters. In September 2020, fires swept through the area, destroying that building and much of the surrounding infrastructure.
In the aftermath of the disaster, the clinic has found a temporary location at a converted quilt shop. However, organizers said this has limited space and an unreliable internet connection.
This month, construction began on a new clinic for those providers. The project is a partnership between Orchid Health and a local nonprofit called McKenzie Valley Wellness.
“I'm excited about our team being able to move into a new facility that better reflects the commitment that they make day in and day out,” said Orion Falvey, Orchid Health’s Executive Director.
The plan is to create a modern facility, with high-speed internet for Telehealth services. Leaders of the project said the space is also big enough to accommodate new programs, such as dental health or physical therapy.
Val Rapp, the President of McKenzie Valley Wellness, said rural communities like this one need accessible healthcare.
“It's at the primary health care level where you can really bend the curve of health care results,” she said. “You can help someone change their lifestyle 20 years before they have a heart attack.”
Rapp said the Holiday Farm Fire has traumatized the local community, harming local mental health. She believes wildfire smoke will also have ongoing health impacts.
The new clinic is being fortified against future fires. Developers are using flame-resistant building materials, and plan to include an air filtration system for smoke.
“It's an issue of when a wildfire comes back, not if,” said Rapp. “The building has that in mind.”
The construction of the new clinic is backed by $1.8 million in state funding. The project is expected to take about a year.