Clinic staff in 2013

Front row, left to right: Family nurse practitioners Mary Sherman, Leslie West

Back row, left to right: Linda Schaefers, Debbie Lemonds, Linda Maxwell, Jean Schmig, April Dundon

In 1978, a year after Congress passed the Rural Clinic Act, the McKenzie River Clinic opened its doors as the first rural health clinic in Oregon. The local community raised the money to buy the land and build the Clinic facility in its current location at the corner of Hwy. 126 and Dexter Street in Blue River. A federal grant paid for the start-up costs and early operation of the Clinic in order to bring health care to the isolated upper McKenzie Valley. 

Fears that the Clinic would become a tax burden for area residents proved to be unfounded. After the start-up federal grant ended in 1979, the Clinic used smaller federal grants for partial support for another year and a half.  Since June 30, 1981—more than 35 years—the Clinic has been self-supporting, funded by patient fees and community donations to cover the costs of uninsured patients and new equipment. The Clinic has also received grants from private foundations for special needs, like a backup power generator, improved phone system, voice recognition software, and other items.

The Clinic is run by the McKenzie River Medical Clinic Board of Directors. The McKenzie River Medical Foundation is a sister organization with a parallel Board of Directors; the foundation raises money to support the Clinic. The year 2018 marks 41 years of continuous operation for the McKenzie River Medical Clinic, a highly valued part of the community.