Local volunteer organization offers free medical care


Contributed photo

In this photo provided by Community Outreach Inc., a medical worker is seen filling out documents.

Emma Coke, News Contributor

Corvallis-based organization, Community Outreach Inc., offers free or discounted primary and acute medical care to those who are uninsured and underinsured within the Linn-Benton County area.

COI, which first opened in 1971 as a solely volunteer-run organization to provide crisis intervention to the youth of Linn-Benton County, runs two of these free medical clinics: one in Corvallis and one in Lebanon. 

The Corvallis medical clinic, located in COI’s main office at 865 NW Reiman Ave, is open 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. on Mondays and Fridays and from 5:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays. Lebanon’s clinic is housed at East Linn Community Clinic on 1600 South Main, Lebanon, Ore. and runs from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. on Tuesdays. Both clinics run on a first come first serve basis.

“It’s just like any other medical clinic where you walk up and there’ll be a bunch of clipboards and you write your name and the details of why you’re coming to be seen,” said Emily Barton, Development Director at COI. “Just your typical clinic stuff.”

According to Lisa Quick, Clinic Director at COI, in addition to primary care services, other medical care provided includes diabetes education, physical therapy, homeopathic care, psychiatric care, cardiovascular care and women’s health. A Dental Clinic and Farm Outreach Clinic are also provided throughout the year. 

“The way the system works is that patients come into the free clinic and they establish care and then they have specialty care needs,” said Barton. “The people who need to see specialty care providers can come back to our clinic to see those specialty care providers.”

While primary care services are provided on a regular weekly basis, specialty care clinics function on an annual calendar and are appointment only as opposed to first-come first-serve. 

All health care received by patients at COI’s free clinics is provided by volunteers, according to Quick. 

“Most of them run the show here,” said Quick. “They’re doing administrative tasks. They’re checking patients in, screening them and doing some shadowing with physicians and also just kind of helping with anything that needs to be done to keep the program going.”

Around 50% of volunteers at COI are pre-med students at Oregon State University, according to Quick.

“We do have a lot of pre-health professions students that volunteer at COI and we advertise and suggest these opportunities for involvement to our students throughout each academic year in our advising meetings and newsletter communications,” said Alex Beck, the Academic and Health Professions Advisor at OSU. 

COI doesn’t only provide free medical care. Over the years, COI has expanded and adapted the services they provide to the people of Linn-Benton County. 

“It’s really been part of that holistic vision to take people in crisis and move them towards stability,”  said Barton. “Today we provide childcare, and we provide shelter in the form of several dorms. We have a men’s dorm, a women’s dorm, a family dorm, and in 2021, they opened a young adult dorm. So that dorm serves young adults between the ages of 18 and 25, who find themselves in a houseless situation.”

The young adult dorm is gender inclusive, according to Barton. Residents share rooms with others who align closest to their gender identity.

COI also provides services to veterans who are unhoused or at risk of becoming unhoused. 

 “So really like the way that community outreach has evolved over the years is just a response to community needs,” said Barton.

“They were thinking about systems, and they were thinking about how to serve people who fall through gaps in the system and need additional support,” said Barton.

For more information on the full range of services and medical care provided by COI, call COI at 541-758-3000. 


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