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Effort includes creation of $1 million scholarship fund to help locals enter health care profession

CENTRAL OREGONIAN FILE PHOTO - The Pioneer Memorial Hospital building was recently purchased by Lutheran Community Services.

Now that Lutheran Community Services has purchased and moved into the old Pioneer Memorial Hospital facility and St. Charles Prineville is nearly two years into its existence, the time has come to dissolve the PMH corporation.

The PMH Board held a meeting Monday, according to Chairman Brian Barney, where they discussed plans with the many people who have donated to PMH throughout its existence. Those plans include the liquidation of assets and the transfer of corporation funds to St. Charles Prineville as well as establishing a new scholarship fund.

"We needed to go before the membership and do a member resolution whereby we resolve that we did sell the facility," Barney said of the meeting.

Lutheran Community Services, the organization through which Crook County Mental Health Department contracts its services, recently purchased the vacated facility for $1.5 million. They plan to convert the 12-acre campus and 96,000 square feet of building space to house a multitude of mental health services. Several Crook County Mental Health staff and programs have recently moved into the facility, and more programs will follow during the next couple years.

The PMH board meeting also addressed plans to use corporation funds to establish a $1 million health care scholarship fund, Barney said. He noted that the effort is still in the rough draft phase, but the board hopes to make it available to focus it on high school students and make it available to other local residents who are pursuing a career in the health care industry.

"We are working closely with the Oregon Community Foundation in developing this scholarship," Barney said. "It might be that someone who wants to be a nurse or a phlebotomist or a pharmacist — anything that is related to health care."

The remaining PMH funds will go to St. Charles Prineville to be used for improvements to the local hospital. Barney did not disclose the exact amount of remaining funds but said it is in excess of $1 million.

"The funds are to stay in our community," he added. "If St. Charles Prineville wants to do some work to make a larger clinic or expand or make some new modifications, they could use the funds for that."

Barney said the board still needs to finalize some details in order to dissolve the PMH corporation, but they plan to finish the process in the near future.

"We really hope to have this all completed and finalized by the end of July," he said. "We are just trying to move as fast as we can."

And as the process concludes, PMH board members are pleased to see the community benefit.

"I just think it's a great thing for our community to have the assets from PMH to continue the legacy of what the community did for PMH over the years," Barney stated.

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