This fall, I was invited to join the Mosaic Medical board of directors. Little did I know, I was about to have a life experience.

Mosaic Medical is a private nonprofit, community health center, also known as a federally qualified health center, which delivers integrated primary care services to over 26,000 Central Oregon residents. It has 15 clinic locations and 320 employees throughout Bend, Prineville, Redmond and Madras — this includes six walk-in school-based health centers open to any child from birth through age 18 and embedded clinics with other partners such as affordable housing agencies and county offices.

Founded in Prineville in 2002 to serve vulnerable and low-income populations, Mosaic Medical clinics are open to anyone seeking care, with a “sliding scale” of fees adjusted to their ability to pay.

However, the “word is out” on the quality of care, and 16 percent of Mosaic Medical patients have private insurance, and 20 percent have Medicare. The model then is to provide the same high-quality care, convenience, and “integrated services” to all patients — no matter what their means.

Financially, this all works, in part, due to a government agency called the Health Resources and Services Administration.

HRSA awards grants to improve access to quality health care. This grant effectively “makes up the difference” for Mosaic so the budget will balance while offering quality health care to the financial spectrum of our population. Late this fall, Mosaic Medical passed its once-every-three-year HRSA audit with no findings — one of the only community health centers in the state to do so.

Mosaic Medical thinks “outside the box” on medical care by having integrated services like behavioral health providers, nutritionists and clinical pharmacists on-site. And by thinking further about the whole health of its patients, Mosaic recently brought oral health care front and center in the organization. It has been shown that good dental care, especially for youth, is another key factor in preventing medical issues. And, as almost all of us have experienced, dental pain and loss of teeth can majorly impact a person’s daily living and health.

In response to this need, two years ago, Mosaic opened its first dental clinic in the middle of its Redmond medical clinic and integrated dental hygienists into all its main clinics. This spring, Mosaic Medical will open a dental clinic in Bend in the same building as the main Bend pediatric and family medicine clinic near the hospital.

This brings me back to my point: right in our midst in Central Oregon, we have one of the nation’s best examples of a federal and local partnership helping solve our health care issues in the most positive way. This takes vision and leadership, a great staff, and support from the community. And finally, it takes a great board of directors. The board of Mosaic Medical is mandated to be made up of at least 51 percent patients so as to stay responsive to community needs and issues. Over the last three months, working with this group of insightful, caring board members made up of a broad spectrum of experience and situation, has been the life experience I have come to treasure.

And together, we are addressing sickness and factors that cause sickness, such as lack of nutrition, mental illness, homelessness and addiction. This is making Central Oregon a better place.

— Rod Ray serves on the Mosaic Medical board of directors and lives in Bend.