Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center will replace an old clinic located in Cornelius with a new 35,000 square-foot wellness center, which is currently under construction. The Cornelius Wellness Center will aid Virginia Garcia with responding to the need for affordable comprehensive primary care and it will serve as the organization’s flagship facility.

The Virginia Garcia Foundation received a $12 million federal grant from the Health Resources and Service Administration to fund the construction of the new center. The grant will cover about 88 percent of the projects cost, with the remaining $1.7 million coming from fundraising, corporations and foundations.  The Cornelius Wellness Center’s grand opening is scheduled for fall 2012.

The memorial health center formed in 1975 after six-year-old Virginia Garcia, the daughter of migrant farm workers, cut her foot and died when the wound became infected. The wound was small and easily treatable, but her family did not seek medical attention because of economic and linguistic barriers to healthcare. To prevent similar tragedies from occurring, the community of Cornelius came together and opened the first Virginia Garcia Memorial Health Center in a three-car garage. The center was established in the girl’s memory and it started out serving farm workers with inadequate health care.

In partnership with Virginia Garcia, students from Pacific’s Dental Science program and School of Pharmacy do their clinical rotations at the organizations various facilities. This year Pacific was also recognized for its partnership with the organization. The HRSA gave its Outstanding Performance Award to Virginia Garcia’s clinical pharmacy team, which acknowledged the combined effort of the organization, Pacific University’s School of Pharmacy and Tuality Community Hospital for exemplifying the positive impact of medication management services.

The Optometry Department also contributes by sending eye care professionals from Pacific to work at Virginia Garcia, and that will continue with the optometry clinic that’s going in the new wellness center. The Cornelius Wellness Center will also include a Virginia Garcia clinic, a community garden, a community kitchen, exercise space and group meeting rooms.

Ann Barr, Vice Provosal and Executive Dean College of Heath Professions, said the new wellness center will expand the ability for Virginia Garcia to serve a larger number of clients in more comprehensive ways. The wellness center will give people a place to gather, it creates opportunities for community classes and it models how primary care ways have focused on prevention by giving people resources to make healthy decisions.

Barr, who also serves on the board of directors for Virginia Garcia, said the organization is a model for how team based care can work to serve clients in communities, impact health and give access to healthcare.

Today Virginia Garcia provides primary health care to 34,000 patients annually and it is the only federally qualified health center in Washington and Yamhill Counties. Clinic employees are able to communicate with patients in 60 different languages and they are able to provide healthcare to people in underserved areas. Virginia Garcia has four primary care clinics, three dental clinics, two school-based health centers and a mobile reach out clinic; serving residents in Beaverton, Hillsboro, Cornelius, Tigard, Forest Grove and McMinnville.

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