Business & economy, In the community

Valley Family seeks input on preliminary plan for expanded health center in Nyssa

NYSSA – Officials at Valley Family Health Care recently disclosed an ambitious blueprint to build a new medical center in Nyssa, and they plan to ask for help from Oregon’s U.S. senators to get the project going.

Plans call for a facility that would either be 7,500 feet or 13,000 feet. The smaller building would include medical, behavioral health and dental care. A larger structure could include 3,000 square feet for community services.

Officials estimate the smaller building would cost $4.5 million. The larger structure would cost $5.4 million.

Now, Valley Family operates a dental office and a medical clinic in Nyssa but both buildings are old and squeezed for space, said Ken Hart, Valley Family chief executive officer.

“We’d like to add another dentist and add behavioral health but we don’t have the space in those two facilities,” said Hart.

The age of the buildings sparked a recent conversation among Valley Family executives about how to replace them. They want to create a one-stop medical facility, he said.

“One question was how do we figure out a way to build a combined clinic in Nyssa? The more we talked about it we thought maybe there are some opportunities to consolidate other services for the community,” he said.

Valley Family doesn’t have the money to build right now, said Hart.

“It could be several years before we could pull this together,” he said.

That’s where U.S. Sen. Ron Wyden, D-Oregon, and Sen. Jeff Merkley, D-Oregon, come in. Hart said Valley Family plans to ask the senators for $1.5 million in congressionally directed spending – otherwise known as earmarks – to get the project off the ground. The process is a way for state and local governments and nonprofits to seek funding for projects.

The Malheur County Court issued a letter Feb. 20 backing the project.

“We see this new project as an opportunity to deepen our working relationship to benefit the health and wellness of our community,” the court wrote.

Hart said the goal now is to publicize the plan and gather input from the community.

“We are just making sure everyone knows, just get people up to speed. We want to get the vision out there,” he said.

Even if federal funds are allocated, Hart said Valley Family will need grants or loans to cover the costs of the new building.

“But step 1 is you have to ask and if we don’t start talking about it that organic bubbling doesn’t happen. We are just trying to plant some seeds. We need input,” he said.

Hart said the collaborative nature could make federal support easier to capture.

“It makes sense and we’ve heard from others that they’d be interested in working with us,” said Hart.

He said organizations such as Lifeways in Ontario are interested in the Valley Family plan.

Hart said eventually Valley Family will need upgrade its Nyssa operation.

Valley Family opened its first clinic in Nyssa in 1997. According to Valley Family, 4,452 people visited the medical clinic in Nyssa last year while 1,452 patients were served at the dental office.

News tip? Contact reporter Pat Caldwell at [email protected]

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