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By Staff
Of The New Era 

County health physician’s assistant aims to ‘make a difference’ in SH

 

March 9, 2016

Chris Rodriguez

Chris Rodriguez has spent his adult life working in healthcare, and now the 41-year-old Corvallis man is serving as a physician’s assistant at the new Sweet Home Health Center.

Rodriguez went to work in Sweet Home on Jan. 4.

He is originally from Texas, he said. He moved to Florida when he was 13 and earned his bachelor’s degree in chemistry, with a minor in math, from the University of Central Florida in 2000. He completed his master’s degree in medical science from Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., in 2008.

Rodriguez worked as a medical assistant and then a research assistant when he was younger, he said. He wanted to “make a difference,” and he began pursuing a career as a physician’s assistant.

“My career path as a physician’s assistant, I’ve actually worked in a wide gamut of specialties,” Rodriguez said. He has worked in internal, family and palliative medicine.

“I also have worked in a pediatric office part-time,” he said.

Before coming to Oregon in January, he worked in an emergency room.

“The science” and a passion for helping people attracted him to the field, he said. “I’ve actually been in medicine since I was 19 years old. There are so few jobs where you are rewarded in the end because of what you did.”

He quoted Ralph Waldo Emerson: “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived, this is to have succeeded.”

For Rodriguez the success comes in knowing “many people have breathed easier because he has lived.”

This is why he has chosen to work in the Sweet Home community, helping provide more access to healthcare locally.

He said he had other job opportunities when he and his girlfriend relocated to Oregon, but Sweet Home is the job he chose.

It gives him “a chance to reach people who aren’t receiving great healthcare,” he said. “It’s a way to make a difference.”

“My girlfriend (Lindsay Frye, D.O.) is an internal medicine physician training at Samaritan Regional Medical Center, training to be a cardiologist. I followed. I was fortunate this opportunity was open.”

He is enjoying Sweet Home, he said. “One of the things that made an impact for me was the recent truck accident and how I saw the community come together to help these families.”

This community has a sense of pride, he said.

“How could you not want to give back to a community that gives so much of themselves?”

For now, Rodriguez is the only primary care provider at Sweet Home Health Center, but its parent organization, Community Health Centers of Benton and Linn Counties is seeking a full-time physician.

As a physician’s assistant, training is generalized and more succinct than for a physician. He works under the supervision of a physician, Dr. Andrew Cornwall of Lincoln Community Health Center in Corvallis.

Sweet Home Health Center is a new service open to anyone for primary care. For those without insurance or with catastrophic coverage, fees are on a sliding scale. The clinic also will help patients who may qualify apply for the Oregon Health Plan.

It is located at the Linn County Health Center, at the corner of Oak Terrace and Long Street.

Rodriguez said patients are beginning to refer family members, and he has been getting patients from the Lebanon Health Center.

“I think what’s nice about this, we have primary care,” he said. “we have WIC. We have mental health service. We have women’s health. We have a dental person that comes in and does dental checkups.

“This is not a health clinic the way we used to think of a free clinic. This is a primary care service. This is where you come to get your primary care and sick care.”

To reach the clinic, call (541) 367-3888.

 
 
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