LGBTQIA+ Welcome

The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) provides compassionate, high quality care for all people in Malheur County, including LGBTQIA+ individuals. We are proud to offer many services for the health and well-being of our community, including:

  • Rapid HIV testing, referral, and case coordination
  • Sexually Transmitted Infections testing and treatment
  • Communicable disease testing and case coordination, including tuberculosis and hepatitis
  • Wide range of birth control options
  • Immunizations, including HPV for all genders ages 9-26
  • Home Visiting programs for parents with children age 5 and under
  • Pregnancy testing and counseling
  • Tobacco prevention and education
  • Birth and death certificates, available within 6 months of event
  • WIC nutrition program for qualifying families with children age 5 and under

We are a community of all sexual orientations and gender identities and have a variety of health needs. MCHD serves all people regardless of ability to pay, with a few low-cost exceptions. No one will be denied services based on immigration status, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, race, nationality, or religious affiliation. MCHD also accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and most private health insurance. If you do not have insurance, we have staff who can help you sign up for the Oregon Health Plan or determine your eligibility for other assistance programs.

All services are confidential and open to all ages. Call 541-889-7279 to make an appointment. Walk ins welcome. Se habla Español.

Crisis Resources and Support

Resources for LGBT Youth and Friends/Supporters

Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes. It is important that at-risk LGBT youth have access to resources and support to deal with the questions and challenges they may face as they mature.

Resources for Educators and School Administrators

Because some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience bullying or other aggression in school, it is important that educators, counselors, and school administrators have access to resources and support to create a safe, healthy learning environment for all students.

Resources for Parents, Guardians, and Family Members

Some LGBT youth are more likely than their heterosexual peers to experience negative health and life outcomes, so it is critical for the parents, guardians, and other family members of LGBT youth to have access to the resources they need to ensure their LGBT children are protected and supported.

Resources from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) LGBT Youth Resources

7 Things You Should Know About Bats and Rabies

70% of Americans who die from rabies in the US were infected by bats – CDC Vital Signs. But bats are not bad! We need to know more to prevent infection and protect this species that protects us from other diseases.

As the weather warms up, adult bats come out of hibernation, baby bats are learning to fly, and humans get outdoors, which means a big increase in human-bat interactions compared to other times of year. Bats can be infected with rabies and can spread that infection to humans who have bare skin contact with bats or bat saliva. 

Oregon has 15 species of bats. Learn more about them at the Oregon Department of Fish & Wildlife. Bats are flying mammals that can reach speeds of 20 to 30 mph. Some of Oregon’s species migrate south in winter while some remain here and hibernate. Bats have ecolocation which allows them to make high-pitched sounds then listen to the echo of those sounds to locate where objects are. Echolocation helps them find even the smallest insect. 

Kate Cole from Public Health Insider compiled seven important things to know about bats and rabies. Please share this information with your friends, family, and children to make sure they know how to protect themselves from rabies in bats.

7. Bats are the main source of rabies in the United States. 

All mammals can get rabies, but in the United States, bats are the primary animal source of rabies. 

6. If you see a bat, do not touch it!! 

Any bare skin contact with a bat or its saliva, or waking up to a bat in your room, could put you at risk for exposure to rabies. Teach your kids not to touch bats, or any wild animal, and be sure to keep your pets away from bats. Talk to your family about the importance of respecting wildlife from a distance.  

5. If you think you or your children or pets may have touched or picked up a bat, take immediate action: 

  • Immediately wash the area that came into contact with the bat thoroughly with soap and water.  
  • Call your medical provider. If a person has been exposed to rabies, an injection of immune globulin and a series of rabies vaccinations need to be given as soon as possible to prevent infection and death. 
  • If you think you had contact with a bat, try to trap it! Trapping it means it can be tested for rabies and people potentially exposed can get the treatment they need. “How am I supposed to trap a bat?” you ask. Good news – there’s a how-to video.

4Pets are at-risk for getting rabies from bats, too. 

Vaccinate your pets against rabies to protect them in case they are exposed. Talk to your veterinarian to see if your furry family members need to update their rabies vaccine.  

Keep your pet under direct supervision so they don’t come into contact with bats. If you suspect your pet has come into contact with a bat, call your veterinarian, even if your pet is up to date on its vaccinations. Your veterinarian may need to give it a booster shot to protect it! 

3If you have problems with bats getting inside your house, you can do a lot to make your home more bat-proof. 

Putting screens on windows can prevent bats from accidentally flying into your home. Sometimes, bats are attracted to nesting in attics or inside a wall. The Washington State Department of Fish and Wildlife has excellent tips on easy things you can do to your home or building to prevent bats from getting inside

2. Most bats don’t have rabies. 

Although exact numbers are not known, it is estimated that less than 1% of bats are infected with rabies. Unfortunately, you cannot tell if a bat has rabies by looking at it; only testing the brain tissue on a dead bat can confirm if a bat has rabies (live bats need to be humanely euthanized before they can be tested for rabies). So, assume all bats may have rabies and never touch them. 

1. Bats are a vital part of our local ecosystem.  

Don’t let all this information about rabies give you a negative opinion on bats. What bats enjoy is eating large amounts of night-flying insects like mosquitos, termites, and agricultural pests, diminishing mosquito-related diseases and the need for pesticides in our community. In fact, some people try to attract bats to their property to help reduce the number of insects. For information on how to build a bat house for your yard, check out this resource.

Article adapted from Public Health Insider.

Identity-first vs. person-first language is an important distinction

Tara Haelle, the Association of Health Care Journalists medical studies core topic leader, recently wrote a post on the AHCJ’s blog, Covering Health, on how to use respectful language when it comes to how we identify the people who are living with various conditions or disabilities.

Haelle’s post was in response to a question about the acceptability of referring to someone with a condition as a descriptor, such as “epileptic child” or “diabetic adults.” Those constructions are called “identity-first” language, as opposed to “person-first” language where the person literally comes first: “children with epilepsy” and “adults with diabetes.”

The use or not of person-first language is a sensitive, important discussion, not unlike discussion of appropriate and respectful gender terminology in stories involving individuals who self-identify with a non-binary gender (something other than “male” or “female”).

This is a particularly relevant concern in the disability community, where a long history of erasure, exploitation, stigma and misunderstanding has led to strong emotions about how people with disabilities — or disabled people, depending on what someone prefers — are identified and discussed.

This is also true for the importance of person-first language when discussing addiction. “People who use intravenous drugs” or “woman with opioid use disorder” or “person with alcohol addiction,” as opposed to “drug users” or “opioid addict” or “alcoholic.”

As is already clear, person-first language is a complex issue depending on the condition and the person. Usually, with clear diseases like epilepsy and diabetes, it’s always best to use person-first language: men with diabetes, children with epilepsy. Although some controversy exists about obesity as a disease state, person-first language is also recommended: “man with obesity” is preferred to “obese man.”

With mental health disorders, it’s usually best to use person-first: a man with schizophrenia (not schizophrenic) or woman with bipolar disorder (not a bipolar woman). However, when you get to conditions that relate to different ways of perceiving or interacting with the world, person-first is often discouraged by those in that community, the source Haelle prioritizes highest. Two examples are autism and deafness.

Most deaf people prefer identity-first language, not person-first, and they reject “hearing impaired” because many do not perceive an inability to hear as a deficit. It’s always best to confirm with the person if there’s one person involved. If there isn’t, then I default to what the community at large generally uses. For Haelle, a community’s preference trumps even “official” sources, since agencies such as the CDC do not always recommend what the community itself prefers (e.g., deafness here.)

Autism is trickier, and Haelle has relied heavily on the Autistic Self Advocacy Network. Many autistic people see autism as an intrinsic part of their identity — a disability, yes, but one that also confers benefits and is simply a different way of perceiving and interacting with the world. This is where one can most frequently run into challenges.

But this preference isn’t across the board, as the ASAN essay notes. Some may prefer “person with autism,” and sometimes parents prefer “child with autism” while their child prefers “autistic child.” Yet the former can (but not always) connote a perception of autism as an unfortunate disorder or disease that someone wants to be cured while the latter connotes “aspect of my identity that is important to my sense of self.” Hence the importance of asking.

Article adapted from AHCJ blog post by Tara Haelle. July 31, 2019.

Housing as a Platform for Health and Equity

Recently in the American Journal of Public Health, Diana Hernández PhD, and Carolyn B. Swope MPH, assess the current state of research on housing and health disparities, and share recommendations for achieving opportunities for health equity centered on a comprehensive framing of housing.

The links between housing and health are now known to be strong and multifaceted and to generally span across 4 key pillars: stability, affordability, quality and safety, and neighborhood opportunity. Housing disparities in the United States are tenaciously patterned along axes of social inequality and contribute to the burden related to persistently adverse health outcomes in affected groups. Appreciating the multidimensional relationship between housing and health is critical in moving the housing and health agenda forward to inspire greater equity.

Despite the vastness of existing research, we must contextualize the housing and health disparities nexus in a broader web of interrelated variables emerging from the same roots of structural inequalities.

Source: Am J Public Health. Diana Hernández PhD, and Carolyn B. Swope MPH. Published online ahead of print August 15, 2019: e1–e4. doi:10.2105/AJPH.2019.305210

MCHD wants you to celebrate National Public Health Week

National Public Health Week is April 1-7, 2019. We are celebrating at the Malheur County Health Department with the 2019 theme “For science. For action. For health.” Changing our health means ensuring conditions where everyone has the opportunity to be healthy. We all have a role to play. Below are some tips for how you can support public health in your life.

blue house

Build a nation of safe, healthy communities
Health must be a priority in designing our communities, from healthy housing to parks and playgrounds. Walking and biking must coexist with cars and public transportation. We need lower levels of violence and crime so everyone can safely live, work, learn and play. Support farmers markets and local businesses that value health, such as retailers that don’t sell tobacco.

blue graduation cap

Help all young people graduate from high school
Education is the leading indicator of good health, giving people access to better jobs, incomes and neighborhoods. Call for policies that start with early school success and lead to higher on-time high school graduation rates. Be a champion for school-based health centers in your local schools. Become a mentor — you can make a difference!

blue stack of money

Increase economic mobility
The science is clear: Poverty and poor health go hand-in-hand. It’s time to fix our country’s growing income inequality and the unhealthy stresses it puts on adults and children. Support policies that ensure a living wage and remove barriers that make it harder to advance to higher incomes.

blue scale

Achieve social justice and health equity
Everyone has the right to good health. We must remove barriers so everyone has the same opportunity to improve their lives and their health. Speak out against racism and an unequal criminal justice system. Demand a fair allocation of community resources. Fight against the trend of growing voter restrictions. Everyone needs a voice in improving our communities.

blue apple

Give everyone a choice of safe, healthy food
Our food system should provide affordable food with nutritious ingredients, free from harmful contaminants. For many families, eating healthy is a daily challenge. Call for policies that help eliminate food deserts and bring healthy food to all neighborhoods and schools. Support measures like menu labeling that help people make healthier choices. Start a community garden.

blue tree

Prepare for the health effects of climate change
What happens upstream in our environments affects our health downstream. Support policies that protect the air we breathe, both indoors and outdoors, and the clean water we drink. Policies that protect our health from natural and manmade weather events and disasters are just as important. Support efforts that help communities prepare for and adapt to the health impacts of climate change.

profile of head and brain

Make the healthy choice the easy choice
Avoid using tobacco, alcohol and other drugs. Eat healthy foods and exercise. We need to make these and other healthy choices for ourselves. But it doesn’t stop there – we need to work together to create communities that make the healthy choice the easy choice for everyone.

blue caduceus

Provide quality health care for everyone
Health reform was just a start. To fulfill its potential, we must continue to pursue options for expanded access to quality care at the federal, state and local levels. But we also need to shift the main focus of our health system from one that treats illness to one that equally emphasizes prevention.

three people with arms in air

Strengthen public health infrastructure and capacity
Strong, consistent funding levels are necessary for the public health system to respond to everyday health threats and unexpected health emergencies. Support higher budgets for key public health agencies like CDC and HRSA. The agencies strengthen the public health workforce and are a major source of funding for state and local health departments and programs.

Learn more at the National Public Health Week website.