To kick off a new year, I want to tell you about a project that we’re really excited about at St. Charles – a project that aims to make Central Oregon healthier, now and for generations to come.

It’s called the Three Sisters Rural Track Program, and it’s a collaborative effort between St. Charles and our partners at Mosaic Community Health, Indian Health Services in Warm Springs and Oregon Health & Science University in Portland. Together, we are building a rural medicine residency program that will create a pipeline of uniquely trained doctors to Central Oregon.

This program – the first graduate medical education program in the region – will significantly transform access to health care in Jefferson, Crook and Deschutes counties and beyond, especially in outlying rural areas.

Why does this matter? Because rural communities across the United States are facing a critical shortage of primary care doctors. This shortage can force patients to drive long distances for care or visit Emergency Departments with routine health concerns. Even worse, they may forego medical care altogether.

Central Oregon is not immune to this shortage. In the tri-county area, we are expecting a shortage of at least 100 primary care doctors by 2030.

Which is precisely why we’ve prioritized the Three Sisters program, and a team of St. Charles caregivers has been working hard to bring it to life. Starting in July, residents will spend one year training at OHSU, and then two subsequent years in residency in Madras. These residents will complete core training and elective training at St. Charles, Mosaic Community Health and Indian Health Services in Warm Springs, giving them culturally inclusive, full-spectrum training in family medicine.

And here’s the long-term effect: Studies show that roughly 55% of physicians stay and practice within a 100-mile radius of their residency program site. Bringing them to Central Oregon to train significantly increases the chance they’ll choose to remain here, put down roots here, serve patients here and increase access to health care here.

That’s why I’m excited about this program, and I hope I’ve stirred some excitement in you, too. This is important, and the future of health care in the region is an issue that should matter not just to St. Charles, but to every person who lives here.

The St. Charles Foundation is raising funds for the Three Sisters program right now. If you’d like to invest in the future of health care in Central Oregon, you can donate through the Foundation’s website. To learn more about how you can help, please contact Angela Saraceno at

As always, thanks for reading.

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