Health Department hosts open house

ONTARIO – The Malheur County Health Department hosted an open house on Wednesday, July 27, to provide area residents a chance to meet its team and promote the “Health is Wealth” program.

Health is Wealth participants can receive a $100 gift card after scheduling and completing 10 short educational sessions about services provided by the county agency. Program participants must be 18 years or older and start the program by June 30, 2023, by registering and picking up their cards at the health department office on 4th street.

The Health Department’s services include communicable disease testing and treatment, family planning and birth control, sexually transmitted infection testing, immunizations, Oregon Health Plan application assistance, tobacco prevention, a family nutrition program, and peer recovery support services.

“Tell anyone you know who’s a mother to come back next week,” said child nutrition certifier Nidya Ketchu, her office door decorated with pictures of vegetables and produce. The Health Department hosted Farmers Tuesday, Aug. 2, and Wednesday, Aug. 3, open to families eligible for the family nutrition program known as Oregon WIC.

The health department provides services directly to people in their homes and for those who English may not be their first language.

“Health equity is incredibly important,” said Miguel Vasquez, a health equity specialist at the health department.

Director Sarah Poe welcomed guests.

“Thank you so much for coming,” said Poe, smiling as a crowd crammed into her office.

During the busy afternoon, Poe had a surprise visit from Kathleen Cathey, U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden’s field representative from La Grande. Cathey stopped by to present a gift from Wyden’s office in appreciation for the work of Poe and her team the past two years during the Covid-19 pandemic. She presented a United States flag that was flown over the Capitol in Washington D.C.

“We just want to thank Sarah and the whole department for the fantastic work they’ve done,” said Cathey.