Celebrating LGBTQIA+ Community & Services

June is LGBTQIA+ Pride Month! We want everyone to know: no matter who you are, you are welcome here.

Local Pride Events

This year, there are many events celebrating Pride month in Malheur County and Eastern Oregon. See the One Community All Spirits Stronger Together event flyer here and the EOCIL Pride program here. Follow our Events Calendar and contact us if you would like to add your community event.

Public Health & Pride

Public health supports Pride month and is active in LGBTQIA+ advocacy because creating an inclusive healthcare environment doesn’t just take care of the LGBTQIA+ patient population, it takes care of all of us. We all benefit when the people around us are healthier. (LGBTQIA+ is an abbreviation for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning, intersex, asexual, and more.) People who are LGBTQIA+ have a variety of health needs and often experience health disparities, placing them at risk for negative health outcomes. Health disparities typically result from a lack of access to adequate healthcare. In public health, we care for everyone in our county, especially our most vulnerable.

The Malheur County Health Department (MCHD) provides compassionate, high quality care for all people in Malheur County, including LGBTQIA+ individuals of all ages. We want to address the disparities and improve health outcomes for all.

We are proud to offer many services, including:

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

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. We 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.

We provide confidential care at low or no cost for a variety of important services that are available to all in our county. Whether it’s testing for sexually transmitted infections, accessing birth control, or getting WIC services, we are here for you. We have a safe space and are grateful for the chance to serve you.

People who are LGBTQIA+ are members of every community, including ours. They are diverse, come from all walks of life, and include people of all races and ethnicities, all ages, all socioeconomic statuses, and from all parts of the country. The perspectives and needs of LGBTQIA+ people should be routinely considered in public health efforts to improve the overall health of every person and eliminate health disparities.

According to the CDC Youth Risk Behavior Survey, when compared to their heterosexual peers, LGBTQIA+ students are more likely to have been bullied at school, seriously considered suicide, felt sad or hopeless, used illicit drugs, been forced to have sex, and misused prescription opioids.

Find excellent resources for LGBTQIA+ Youth, Educators, and Family LGBTQ+ Youth Resources and more general resources for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Health from the CDC. For healthcare providers, the American Academy of Family Physicians provides a highly-recommended LGBTQ Health Toolkit.

World No Tobacco Day

Today is World No Tobacco Day, giving us an opportunity to raise awareness on the harmful and deadly effects of tobacco use.

The World Health Organization (WHO) presents World No Tobacco Day each year on May 31st to highlight the harmful effects of cigarettes and other tobacco products on a person’s overall health. In Malheur County, we want to focus on preventing youth tobacco product use and the tobacco industry’s attempts to attract youth. Tobacco is dangerous, and it’s pushed by a dishonest industry. That hurts everyone in Malheur County, whether we use tobacco or not.

Using any kind of tobacco product is unsafe, especially for kids, teens, and young adults.

The younger a person starts using tobacco products, the more likely they are to become dependent on nicotine. The tobacco industry uses this information to attract youth and young people to their products through ads and sponsorships in stores, online, in media, and at cultural events.

The flavors in tobacco products, including e-cigarettes, make these products appealing to kids and teens. Since 2009, tobacco companies have not been allowed to sell cigarettes in flavors other than menthol in the U.S. Still, youth are more likely than adults to smoke menthol cigarettes. Flavoring is also a major driver of e-cigarette use among young people. More than 2 out of 3 youth who currently use e-cigarettes use flavored e-cigarettes, and flavors are a major reason they report starting to use e-cigarettes.

Watch this excellent video from University of Washington Medicine on advice to quit vaping:

If you know someone who is ready to quit using tobacco, help link them to the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line. Free counseling and medication (patch and gum) is available for people to quit smoking, vaping or other tobacco products. Free for all adults and youth over age 13 living in Oregon. Insurance not needed.  Coaches are there 24/7. They are real people who have helped others quit for good—no judgments, just help. Learn more about what happens when you call the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line.

In English
Text “READY” to 200-400
Call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669)

En Español
Call 1-855-DEJELO-YA (1-855-335356-92)

Since 2014, most U.S. youth who said they had ever used tobacco products reported using e-cigarettes, and the percentage has grown over time. E-cigarettes typically contain nicotine, and newer e-cigarettes use a new form of it called nicotine salts, which make it easier to inhale higher levels of nicotine.

Because of the recent rise in e-cigarette use by US middle and high school students, CDC offers resources for parentsteachers, and healthcare providers to help them talk to kids about e-cigarettes.

Everyone—from those who influence youth directly to whole communities—can help prevent children, teenagers, and young adults from trying and using tobacco products.

Parents and other caregivers can:

  • Set a good example by being tobacco-free (call 1-800-QUIT-NOW or visit smokefree.gov and smokefreeoregon.com for help with quitting)
  • Talk to kids about the harms of tobacco products, including e-cigarettes
  • Know what children watch, and talk about tobacco use onscreen
  • Tell kids you expect them not to use tobacco products, or to stop using them
  • Refuse to give tobacco products to kids, teens, or young adults

The Office of the Surgeon General has more tips for parents and caregivers to help keep young people tobacco-free.

Healthcare providers can:

  • Talk to their patients about the dangers of tobacco use (in a 2015 survey, only 1 out of 3 U.S. high schoolers said their doctor brought up smoking during a visit)
  • Ask patients if they use tobacco products, and advise them to quit

CDC offers resources and tools to help providers start the conversation about tobacco and quitting.

If everyone works together to keep youth safe from the harms of tobacco use, we can move further toward a healthier, smoke-free world.

World No Tobacco Day is coming up!

Join us in celebrating World No Tobacco Day on May 31, 2023. In Malheur County, Oregon, 20% of adults are current cigarette smokers, compared with just 14% in Oregon and 16% nationally. Morrow County and Lake County also tie with Malheur for 20%, the highest rate in Oregon. Each year approximately 480,000 premature deaths can be attributed to smoking in the United States. We also have a higher rate of poor health and premature death in Malheur County, well above the state and national averages. Cigarette smoking is identified as a cause of various cancers, cardiovascular disease, and respiratory conditions, as well as low birthweight and other adverse health outcomes. These poor health outcomes due to tobacco use are preventable!

Help us raise awareness and plan to join us in advertising both World No Tobacco Day, Smokefree Oregon, and the Oregon Tobacco Quit Line.

Oregon Tobacco Quit Line

Are you ready to quit? You are not alone. More than six out of ten Oregon tobacco users want to quit. And there’s help to do just that.

The Oregon Tobacco Quit Line is a free program offering tips, information, one-on-one counseling and nicotine replacement therapy (NRT) to anyone looking to quit. Available to all Oregonians regardless of income or insurance status, the Quit Line is staffed by real people who are friendly and non-judgmental. Quit coaches will help you make your own plan to fit your own life. No pressure, no guilt. Coaches can even help you get free nicotine gum or the patch.

Quitting tobacco is the best thing you can do to immediately improve your health. You can quit. The Oregon Tobacco Quit Line can help.

The Oregon Tobacco Quit Line is open 7 days a week, 24 hours a day. Coaching is available in many languages.

For help in English, text “READY” to 200-400, call 1-800-QUIT-NOW (1-800-784-8669) or visit www.quitnow.net/Oregon.

Español: 1-855-DEJELO-YA (1-855-335356-92), www.quitnow.net/oregonsp

TTY: 1-877-777-6534

Syringe/Sharps Disposal Containers

We’ve had recent requests from other counties and community partners about our amazing sharps bins we’ve set up in Ontario, Nyssa, and Vale. Last year, we collected approximately 25,000 used syringes and 15,000 in 2021. These are safe ways to dispose of syringes left on the ground and from home. People can dispose used needles and syringes into sharps disposal drop boxes 24 hours a day, confidentially, and safely. We’re lucky to have a local business that has manufactured high-quality bins to fit the standard large, red sharps and biohazard waste containers.

The local business building these containers is Enterprise Sales. They can be contacted at 541-889-5541 or sharper@srvinet.com.

To learn more about the Malheur County Health Department syringe exchange and peer program, contact us at 541-889-7279.

Safety Tips

  • Avoid touching or handling needles or syringes found in public places. Parents and caregivers should remind children not to touch needles in parks and playgrounds.
  • If you are accidentally stuck by another person’s used needle or other sharp:
    • Wash the exposed area right away with water and soap or use a skin disinfectant (antiseptic) such as rubbing alcohol or hand sanitizer. 
    • Seek immediate medical attention by calling your provider right away or going to your local hospital emergency department. Providers will check your immunization status and may begin preventative treatment.

How do I safely dispose of a syringe?

Follow this step by step guide about how to safely pick up and dispose of syringes.

Step 1: Pick it up

To avoid health risk wear gloves like gardening or kitchen gloves. Some people use tongs, pliers, or a trash grabber. This is a good idea, especially for anyone who is going to pick up a lot of syringes or who is doing a community clean up. 

Step 2: Drop it in

  • Use a hard plastic container such as a sharps container or 20oz water or juice bottle with a lid.
  • Set the container on the ground
  • Drop the syringes in one at a time needle point down

Step 3: Seal it up

  • Close the container tight
  • Seal the top with a piece of tape
  • Label container “sharps do not recycle”

Step 4: Drop it off

Go to the nearest drop box and dispose of syringes one at a time to avoid potential harm.

Thank you for keeping our community safe. 

Peer Recovery Groups Cancelled This Week

There will be no recovery groups meeting at the Malheur County Health Department this week.

The Peer Support Services program typically holds three recovery groups each week: SMART Recovery and PeerZone are open to the public and another group meets for peers working in recovery services locally. For the week of July 7-13, 2023, all groups are cancelled while staff are in training.

We still welcome walk-ins or appointments for syringe exchange, Narcan, rapid testing, and the many other services available at the Health Department. Come by or call us at 541-889-7279.

We hope to see more people at our recovery groups later in the month. Join us at 3 p.m. on Wednesdays and 5:30 p.m. on Thursdays. Find all class times on the events calendar.

Save the Date: WIC Farmers Market

Save the date for Tuesday-Wednesday, July 11th and 12th, for the WIC Farmers Market at the Malheur County Health Department. Red Barn Produce will have fruits and vegetables for sale to the public and for Farm Direct Nutrition Program recipients to spend their checks, including WIC Farm Direct and Senior Farm Direct participants. If you are current on WIC, you may be eligible to receive $28 worth of WIC Farm Direct checks to use at the Farmers Market or at local farm stands during the season.

To learn more about WIC, see the Spotlight on Malheur County WIC Program. If you are pregnant or have a child under the age of five, call us at 541-889-7279 to find out if you’re eligible and sign up for services.

Share the Farmers’ Market event on Facebook here and the graphics in English and Spanish below. Remember to mark your calendar for July 11-12, 2023!

Learning Lab Today & Updated Flyer

Join us today, May 3rd, at 1 p.m. at the Health Department for our monthly Learning Lab! This is a great way to meet our team and others in the community. Show your support for public health, eat some snacks, and learn something new!

This month, we’re learning all about Family Planning from our amazing nurse, Tracy. Check out the Spotlight on Family Planning here.

We made some changes to the schedule for the upcoming labs, moving the July date to the 19th, to not overlap with the WIC Farmers Market, happening July 11-12th. Please share this flyer and the Facebook event. Mark your calendars, bring your friends and colleagues, and we hope to see you monthly!

Spotlight on Malheur County Family Planning Program

Who are we?

  • A group of caring nurses and a nurse practitioner who offer high quality reproductive health services and birth control.
  • Most services will be free or low cost to everyone, regardless of immigration status, sex, or gender identity.
  • Short term methods available on same day as visit.

What types of services are available at our clinic?

  • Birth control and condoms
  • Women’s check-ups, including breast exams and Pap tests
  • Emergency Contraception
  • Pregnancy tests
  • Screening and treatment for sexually transmitted infections
  • HPV and other immunizations
  • Information about tubal ligations and vasectomy and how to access resources
  • Coming soon, colposcopy services if needed after abnormal Pap

Who qualifies for our services?

  • Individuals who can get pregnant OR get someone else pregnant.  Most anyone under 250% of the Federal Poverty Level is likely eligible for free reproductive health services.
  • Reproductive health is not just for women! We serve men as well.
  • Youth of any age may make an appointment/obtain services without parental consent

How to access our services?

  • Call to make an appointment today 541-889-7279
  • Walk-ins accepted upon nurse availability


  • To increase the number of teens who access our services
  • To increase the number of males that we serve in our clinic
  • To increase the percentage of clients using long-acting reversible contraception

COVID-19 at-home tests & resources

The Malheur County Health Department has many free, at-home COVID-19 rapid tests available for pick up at our clinic during business hours. Call us at 541-889-7279 or walk in to 1108 SW 4th St, Ontario, Oregon. While you’re here, start Health is Wealth and get $100 to Albertsons once you complete the program!

The FDA has released new information this month on At-Home Over the Counter (OTC) COVID-19 Diagnostic Tests. At-home rapid COVID-19 tests are authorized for self-testing. This means you collect your own sample, perform the test, and read the result yourself without the need to send a sample to a lab.

To see if the expiration date for your at-home COVID-19 test has been extended, refer to this table, find the row that matches the manufacturer and test name shown on the box label of your test.  

  • If the Expiration Date column says that the shelf-life is “extended,” there is a link to “updated expiration dates” where you can find a list of the original expiration dates and the new expiration dates. Find the original expiration date on the box label of your test and then look for the new expiration date in the “updated expiration dates” table for your test.   
  • If the Expiration Date column does not say the shelf-life is extended, that means the expiration date on the box label of your test is still correct. The table will say “See box label” instead of having a link to updated expiration dates.  

Although case rates and serious illness have decreased in Malheur County and across the region, the virus is still in the area with cases identified each week. Thirteen cases were reported last week, with a test positivity of 13.2%. These tests are only those reported from healthcare providers and laboratories, who are testing people who may be sick or exposed. Find more about county case counts, deaths, and test positivity here.

Find the FDA table for the list of approved COVID-19 rapid home tests and their expiration extensions here.

If you test positive, it is not necessary for you to report your positive test result to the Malheur County Health Department or the Oregon Health Authority (OHA). Whether or not you have symptoms, stay home and separate from others for five days. Continue to isolate from others until you have been fever free for 24 hours and other symptoms are improving. Wear a mask around others for an additional five days. If you have questions or need help, Call 211 or 1-866-698-6155 or visit 211info.org. Learn more about what to do if you test positive from the OHA here.

Related Information: