Provider shortage in Klamath County leaves 35,000 needing new health care provider

The Regence Foundation announced today it awarded a $41,000 grant to the Oregon Office of Rural Health through the Oregon Health and Science University Foundation.  The grant will be used to help recruit health care providers in Klamath Falls, where there is a significant provider shortage.

“Access to quality health care close to home is the cornerstone of a healthy community, said Michael Alexander, Regence Foundation board chair.  “Unfortunately, in rural areas with severe provider shortages, like Klamath Falls, residents are often forced to travel long distances to find treatment, go to the emergency room, or go without the care they need.”

Rural areas across the country are losing doctors. The federal government has designated Klamath Falls as a Medically Underserved Area and a Health Professional Shortage Area.  According to the Oregon Office of Rural Health, in 2008 Klamath County lost eight primary care physicians, one OB/GYN, one dermatologist, one otolaryngologist, its only rheumatologist, and both of its neurologists. This left 20,000 people needing a new health care provider, which increased to 35,000 by June 2009.

The Oregon Office of Rural Health will use the grant to partner with the Klamath Falls Healthcare Access Committee to implement a provider recruitment pilot project based on a recruitment model used in West Virginia.  The goal of the pilot project is to make Klamath Falls more attractive to potential health providers and their families.  It will address everything from community appearance and job options for providers’ spouses to increased coordination between local hospitals and clinics.

“Our mission is to fund collaborative and innovative health programs making a positive impact in the community.” said Michael Alexander, Regence Foundation board chair, “We applaud the Oregon Office of Rural Health for their creative thinking on recruiting health care providers in rural areas, and we’re proud to award them our first grant in the Klamath Falls area.”

About The Regence Foundation

The Regence Foundation is the corporate foundation of Regence, the largest health insurer in the Northwest/Intermountain region and a nonprofit independent licensee of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. A 501(c)3 grantmaking organization, the Foundation partners with organizations driving significant change in health care delivery and accessibility in Idaho, Oregon, Utah and Washington. Through its Sojourns program, the Foundation also supports organizations advancing quality palliative and end-of-life care. For more information visit or