At Wallace, we’re grateful every day for an incredible asset—our staff. But much of the time we go on with our daily work and forget to share that gratitude.
In 1984, Wallace founder Jim Reuler, MD and a handful of other doctors begin making medical visits to homeless and low-income residents in downtown Portland.
Community Health Centers such as Wallace serve as a beacon of strength, service, and care in their communities. In moments of pain and loss, they offer support and love. In moments of triumph, they offer hope and a vision for the future.
That’s been true for over 50 years.
America’s Health Centers were born of the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, when a group of determined activists waged a fight to improve the lives of people living in poverty, who desperately needed health care. Their leader was H. Jack Geiger, a young doctor who had seen the success of community-based health care while he was a student in South Africa.
President Lyndon B. Johnson’s wide-ranging War on Poverty initiatives gave Dr. Geiger and other health care pioneers their opportunity. Their proposals to establish health centers in medically underserved urban and rural communities bore fruit with the approval of funding in 1965 for the nation’s first two Health Centers—in Mound Bayou, Mississippi and Boston, Massachusetts.
The Community Health Center movement has never looked back, exceeding the wildest expectations of those early activists. Today, more than 1200 health centers, including health centers specializing in health care to migrant farmworkers, homeless persons, and public housing residents operate in over 7500 sites, providing care to more than 17 million underserved patients throughout the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories. Wallace is proud to be among them.
This National Health Center Week we celebrate the roles Community Health Centers have played in both our recent moments of loss and triumph. From the very beginning of the COVID-19 crisis, Community Health Centers have been finding innovative ways to provide preventative and primary care to their patients—from expanded telehealth services to door-to-door grocery delivery.
During this week of remembrance, we honor those front line providers, staff, and beloved patients who have lost their lives during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As we commemorate their lives and celebrate the future of community health, let’s shine a light across the country that brings access to high quality primary health care to everyone – now and for the years to come
We’ve made many changes to adapt to the new reality, and telemedicine is the biggest of them all. Whenever a patient’s needs can be met over phone or video, whether it be medical, behavioral or dental, we are providing virtual appointments.
Dear Wallace Friends and Supporters,
Our communities are facing unparalleled, difficult times in this current climate. Systematic racism and inequities targeting Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities has repressed our society and damaged our country. Due to recent events centered around George Floyd’s murder, many people around the world have stepped forward as change agents to push for an equitable future. Wallace pledges to learn how to be an active part of the solution toward advancing social justice, inclusion, and equality.
As an organization we recognize that while we do valuable work, we still have work ahead of us.
Hiring and recruiting practices and assuring that this is a place where African American’s feel welcome, included, and comfortable accessing care and where an employee feels like they can grow and be part of a thriving team – is an area of improvement for Wallace.
Conversations with our board, community, and patients have revealed that while Latino’s feel welcome and comfortable accessing care at Wallace, African American’s would feel more inclined to seek our services if they encountered more African American staff. To that end we know that we have work to do.
The work of taking a serious look in the mirror at who we represent, and making a commitment toward positive change will open up opportunities for those interested to participate in this work. We will be launching these efforts in the near future and we will be inviting staff and community members to participate.
Today is June 19th, recognized in the African American community as Juneteenth; also known as Emancipation day or Freedom day, the day that marks the end of slavery in the United States. As a holiday with deep cultural significance, our Board of Directors will discuss the observation of Juneteenth as a Wallace holiday for next year, 2021. Moving to recognize Juneteenth annually is an important step Wallace is taking as an organization to help the country live up to the ideal of moving forward.
It’s past time. A just, safe and healthy future for everyone needs to start now. We all have work to do.
This Juneteenth we remember the injustices of the past, and condemn the injustices of today. We reflect with humility and open hearts our readiness for change.
Lisa Cline and the Wallace Sr. Leadership Team
This year we celebrated the third birthday of Wallace’s dental clinic. In those three years, our dental and medical teams have worked hand in hand to bring whole person health care to kids and adults in our community. We’d like to share with you the story of one patient, Duane, for whom our dental clinic became the starting point on a journey toward good health.
Duane walked into our dental clinic earlier this year with a painful dental abscess that had been bothering him for days. The old antibiotics he had left over weren’t helping, and his pain was too intense to ignore any longer. Wallace Dental Director Kyle Geelan saw him right away, treated the abscess, and suggested Duane come back in a couple days for a full exam.
Duane was skeptical about returning. He’d avoided going to the dentist his whole life. But he was also worried about missing work if the pain returned. On his way out, Duane made an appointment for an exam later that week.
When Duane and Kyle began the exam, Duane joked that the last doctor he saw was when he was born. “Why would I see a doctor? What are they going to tell me? I smoke, I used to have a drinking problem… they aren’t exactly going to say something good.”
Kyle understood, and reassured him. “I told him we have a friendly medical staff who would love to see him, who aren’t in the business of passing judgement. It’s not about guilt; it’s about giving him tools, and letting him decide what to do with them.” Two days later, Duane had his first visit with a Wallace medical provider.
After that, Duane began to have a different attitude about asking the doctor for help. He started enrolling in a variety of primary care services at Wallace, including a smoking cessation program. He checks in between appointments to ask questions and get advice.
For Kyle, Duane’s transformation is striking. “Duane is not the same guy who first came in to our clinic. I’m amazed at what can happen when someone is given the tools they need to get healthy, and they run with it. They just need that spark.”
Duane’s story is not rare. Dental crises escalate faster than other health problems. For people with neglected health, a dental emergency is very likely to become their first acute issue to surface. That makes Wallace’s dental clinic an entry point for patients with serious, accumulated health care needs. By treating these dental emergencies every day, our care teams build rapport and create bridges of trust. From there, we can connect patients to the rest of the resources and services they need.
For every person like Duane that we’re able to help at Wallace, there’s another who needs us just as desperately. This holiday season, consider making a gift to Wallace to help provide this care. Your contribution today can mean not only immediate relief from dental pain, but the possibility of a new and healthier future for someone who never thought they’d hear a doctor “say something good.”
Click here to make your gift and ensure affordable, quality health care is available to all.
After months of surveying client medical needs, coupled with their understanding of the Wallace brand, we are happy to introduce you to: Wallace: Together in Health.
At The Wallace Medical Concern, we help our patients get well, and we support them in taking on the root problems that lead to poor health. This year, Wallace began a pilot program to tackle one of the biggest determinants of health for our patients: housing.
We estimate 20 percent of Wallace patients have experienced homelessness in the last six months. Without intervention, many will wait years for affordable housing opportunities to arise. Meanwhile, their health problems can grow out of control. It’s too easy to lose hope.
Below is the story of our very first family to find housing through our new program, Housing for Health. Their story is a reminder of the struggle so many families face to stay safe, housed and healthy… and how Wallace and our supporters can make a difference!
Two years ago, Robert Baker’s car was towed, and he was fired for not getting to work on time. Without an income, his family struggled to make rent. They were quickly evicted, and he, his wife Ashley, their five-year-old son and their newborn twins found themselves living in his car.
The past two years have been desperately hard for the Bakers. Robert works three poorly-paying jobs, and Ashley’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families benefits ended. Without enough room to sleep comfortably, they took turns sleeping in the trunk. The whole family caught and shared colds. Then, two months ago, Ashley broke out with shingles, aggravated by sleeping in the cramped car seat. Her pain and frustration became overwhelming.
Things started looking up when the Bakers saw the sign for The Wallace Medical Concern as they drove past. They pulled over to get Ashley help. As a part of her care that day, Ashley was asked about her housing situation and other health determinants. She was immediately referred to our Housing for Health program.
Housing for Health connects Wallace patients with a Housing Navigator, who identifies affordable housing resources and helps make the transition into housing go smoothly. Housing Navigator Christine Sanders worked closely with the Bakers, finding a 3-bedroom home they could rent with a subsidy, and enrolling them in classes to teach them the homemaking and budgeting skills they need to stay in their new home.
“It all starts with housing,” said Christine. “Take care of that one big stressor, and suddenly everything else becomes fixable.” Meanwhile, the whole Baker family became Wallace patients, and began receiving regular medical and dental care for the first time. Their son’s school attendance improved.
The day of the move, Christine rented a truck and took the Bakers to Community Warehouse. Ashley and Robert picked out furniture and appliances they would need. The twins grabbed baskets and filled them with toys to bring home.
As Ashley and Robert unpacked boxes, their oldest son followed Robert around, imitating him. The twins ran from room to room, chasing each other. Ashley eventually sat down to stretch her legs. Teary-eyed, she told Christine she felt like they were a normal family again, adding:
“I felt like everyone had given up on us. Thank you for seeing us, and helping.”
With the Bakers moved in, our Housing for Health team is focused on keeping up the momentum. “There are two more Wallace families we’re trying to get off the street by New Year’s,” said Christine. “There’s a lot to do, but we can do it with the help of our supporters.
Please join me and support our mission of good health for everyone by making a gift today. Your contribution will give families who face almost unimaginable challenges the chance to return to good health—and a normal life—together.
Click here to make your gift and ensure affordable, quality health care is available to all.