A Holistic Approach to healthcare
One of the things I love about being a digital nomad is that I get to combine work and travel, allowing me to learn even more about my clients, which I get to share with you!
While we were in Oregon, I had the opportunity to visit the Ko-Kwel Wellness Center and spend time with the Center’s CEO, Katy Halverson.
Katy gave me a tour of the Wellness Center while explaining the array of services available to their community members. The Center takes a holistic approach, offering medical, dental, vision and mental health services all under the same roof. There is also a sister Wellness Center located in Eugene, OR.
From the center’s website:
“The Ko-Kwel Wellness Centers in Coos Bay and Eugene emphasize providing a welcoming, healing environment for underserved communities. Bringing wellness services to indigenous patients is our primary mission.”
S+B James Construction was the design-build general contractor for the 22,060-square-foot facility in Coos Bay. The new Center is nearly three times the size of the tribe’s former Community Health Center.
S+B shares its design approach on its website:
“Its design will reflect the tribe’s indigenous heritage: its exterior evokes a tribal plank house, with a main entrance simulating a traditional round door. The space between the fork’s tines forms an interior courtyard where patients can relax in a secluded, serene environment.”
The Center also has a community room for tribal member meetings and a spacious outdoor patio for various ceremonies and celebrations.
Katy explained how the Coos Bay dental facility, which opened in January 2022, spent most of its early months of operation providing restorative care, as many patients hadn’t had access to a dentist in more than a decade. She told me how the Center is also helping to destigmatize mental healthcare by making referrals and introductions while also scheduling follow-up appointments with their in-house behavioral health team at the patient’s initial evaluation, rather than handing them a phone number to call someone they haven’t met.
The Coos Bay Center received its accreditation in 2022 from the Accreditation Association for Ambulatory Health Care (triple AHC), which paved the way for the Center to provide even more services to its growing patient roster. Expansion plans are underway to build a rehabilitation and fitness center in Coos Bay and another center in Medford.
The Centers have helped transform healthcare for the many Indigenous people in Oregon, offering traditional Western medical care while honoring the people in their care. The U.S. healthcare system can learn something from their holistic approach.