By Tara Bannow

The Bulletin

Proceeds from the sale of the former Pioneer Memorial Hospital in Prineville will go toward expanding primary care and scholarships for locals pursuing careers in health care.

The Prineville Hospital Foundation and the Pioneer Memorial Hospital Board, the group that oversaw the former Prineville hospital, will dedicate a combined $3.5 million toward expanding Prineville’s St. Charles Family Care clinic. The board is also putting $1 million toward educational scholarships.

The nonprofit social services provider Lutheran Community Services Northwest purchased the building in April for $1.5 million. Some of the additional money being donated comes from remaining operational funds of the former hospital.

The Family Care clinic is inside St. Charles Prineville, a $30 million facility that opened in September 2015. It employs 10 primary care providers: seven doctors, two nurse practitioners and one physician assistant.

The funding will help pay salaries for up to three additional providers, and includes $500,000 to recruit people and keep them on board, said John Bishop, president of St. Charles Prineville and St. Charles Madras.

That occurs at a crucial time, as there is a shortage of primary care providers in Prineville, Bishop said. St. Charles and Mosaic Medical are the city’s only two such providers.

“Having the building is important, but having the physicians that are within it to serve our community is what really changes this community and provides the access that they need,” he said.

The expansion will add nearly 6,000 square feet to the clinic, a roughly 50 percent increase, Bishop said. The addition will include 13 new exam rooms and two procedure rooms, he said. That will open up more space for surgical specialists and visiting specialists.

A variety of specialists regularly visit the hospital from Bend, including orthopedists, gynecologists and podiatrists, but Bishop said he would like to bring in more specialties.

St. Charles plans to add an outpatient rehabilitation exam room and 300 square feet to the clinic’s physical therapy gym. There are plans to add a space for urgent, walk-in visits, Bishop said.

Brian Barney, chairman of the Pioneer Memorial Hospital Board, said the primary care expansion is necessary because the new hospital, which is smaller than its predecessor, is not big enough to handle demand.

“There just isn’t enough room,” he said, “and there isn’t enough physicians.”

The Pioneer Memorial Hospital Board voted to dedicate $1 million toward educational scholarships for Crook County high school graduates or General Equivalency Diploma recipients looking to pursue careers in health care. Scholarship money will be available for adults who have lived in Crook County for at least five years and wish to go back to school to pursue or advance health care careers.

The Oregon Community Foundation will administer the scholarships, and will release information on how to apply in the coming months. Each year, 3.5 percent of the money, or $35,000, will go toward scholarships, Bishop said. There is not a designated number of people who can receive them.

Lutheran Community Services Northwest, a nonprofit that provides mental health, substance abuse and other services to adults and kids, is providing services out of the former hospital building. It’s much more space than the organization needs, however, so administrators are working with Crook County to determine which other groups could move in, whether that be memory care providers or other nonprofit organizations, said David Duea, president and CEO of Lutheran Community Services Northwest.

“It’s a huge building,” he said. “We were thinking of demolishing a couple of the older wings, but the community says, ‘No, we think we have reasons for that to be used.’”

— Reporter: 541-383-0304,