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OHSU and Sky Lakes Medical Center of Klamath Falls are partnering to construct a collaborative health care building that will support the OHSU Campus for Rural Health, which formally launched in fall 2015.

The rural campus builds on existing OHSU resources and programs to develop new ways to meet diverse rural health care needs. The initiative focuses heavily on community partnerships and seeks to build interprofessional collaboration. In addition, all OHSU students will have at least one rotation in a rural setting.

While the rural “campus” will serve the entire state, its academic headquarters will be in Klamath Falls. The initiative got a major boost in spring 2016 when Sky Lakes announced it will contribute $15 million toward a first-of-its-kind collaborative facility that will fulfill collective clinical, research and education needs. The new building will be home to the rural campus dean, who will manage all statewide OHSU rural health programs.

“Providing health care in rural areas is vastly different from that in metropolitan areas. Our need for collaboration and communication is greater and the challenges we face are just that — challenging.”

Paul Stewart, president and CEO, Sky Lakes Medical Center

This 88,000-square-foot medical office and educational building will improve clinical care, provide an ideal venue for training and ultimately enhance the health of the community overall. By consolidating several area clinics, the building will bring 80 percent of Klamath Falls primary care physicians under one roof and foster a culture of collaboration among all health care providers, including nurse practitioners, physical and occupational therapists, mental health providers and dietitians.

“Providing health care in rural areas is vastly different from that in metropolitan areas,” says Paul Stewart, president and CEO of Sky Lakes Medical Center. “Our need for collaboration and communication is greater and the challenges we face are just that — challenging.”

OHSU’s new partnership with Sky Lakes will provide an excellent rural training experience to the best dentists, nurses, pharmacists, physicians, physician assistants and other health care providers, and greatly improve the likelihood they will return to rural areas to begin their practices and raise their families.

“We thank Sky Lakes for being a foundational partner in our vision for the OHSU Campus for Rural Health, which will serve the Klamath Falls area and communities throughout Oregon,” says Jenny Mladenovic, OHSU executive vice president and provost. “We are excited to work with Sky Lakes to build on the momentum that this gift provides.”

OHSU and Sky Lakes will participate in joint fundraising to complete the $50 million facility. OHSU has committed at least $5 million to help sustain the programs the building will house.

“At OHSU, what we’ve found is that when we are open to the power of partnership, and willing to work with others to solve problems in the name of the public good, the opportunities are boundless,” says Joe Robertson, MD, MBA, OHSU president.