Origin Stories: Rogue Community Health

Origin Stories: Rogue Community Health

By Erin Zelinka, Communications Manager, Rogue Community Health

Rogue Community Health (RCH) began in 1972 as the Ashland Women’s Health Center, an all-volunteer organization focused on self-care exams, pregnancy and communicable disease testing. By 1977, the community requested services for a broader population, and the Ashland Community Health Center was born. “Because it needs to be done,” reads a local headline from the time.

A 1977 article in the The Daily Tidings about the clinic’s expansion in its fifth year.

While Rogue Community Health (RCH) took several names and forms over the years, our services and growth have always been driven by community need. Grants supported the opening of a Medford clinic in 1983, a larger Medford clinic in 1993, and a temporary White City clinic in 1998. Capital campaigns resulted in a new Ashland facility by 1999 and a permanent facility in White City by 2004.

In 2004, RCH (then called Community Health Center) also became a Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) — a designation we continue to enjoy today for our five clinics and six school-based health centers. In 2014, our name officially changed to Rogue Community Health (RCH). In 2017, Oregon Health Authority recognized RCH as the first Tier 5 (5 STAR) clinic in Oregon— a distinction awarded to health centers who have implemented advanced transformative processes into their practices.

Today, need continues to drive everything that we do, as we expand not only our services and facilities but our minds and hearts to become more innovative, more adaptive and more inclusive.

COVID-19 has created the need for virtual visits, which we have implemented and strive to continuously improve upon, with the goal of helping patients feel as supported and comfortable online as they do in-person.

The Black Lives Matter movement has emphasized the need for increasing our intentional outreach and engagement, so we can listen and learn more about how to best serve marginalized populations. “Our ongoing work is to create systemic equity to replace systemic bias, structural opportunity to replace structural bigotry, lift-up implicit fairness to replace implicit bias, and build strong personal and institutional even-handedness to replace prejudicial and discriminatory policies,” said Rogue Community Health CEO William North.

Today, Rogue Community Health serves nearly 15,000 patients in Ashland, Butte Falls, Medford, Prospect and White City. Our services include medical care, dental care, behavioral health, integrative health, pharmacy, pediatrics, school-based health centers and community resource navigation.

Community Health Workers at Rogue, masked up and helping the community amidst COVID-19.

“Nearly 50 years ago the clinic arose to meet a community need, and that’s what we strive to do every day,” said North. “We want to always be listening, always reaching out, so vulnerable populations have the opportunity to voice what they need most from us to support their whole-person health.”

As in our initial years, we do it because it needs to be done.

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