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South Gilliam Health Center expands services, offers physical therapy

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CONDON – Residents of south Gilliam County are fortunate to have access to quality healthcare and wellness services at the South Gilliam Health Center (SGHC) in Condon.

Over the years, SGHC has excelled in its service delivery and has continually expanded its operations.

For a small town, there is a lot offered at the South Gilliam Health Center – including medical, dental, behavioral, and mental health services.

Now, the SGHC is adding physical therapy to its list of services and Dr. Haylee Farrar has returned home to offer this crucial service for area residents.

Haylee Farrar is a native of Condon and graduated from Condon High School in 2004. Dr. Farrar is the daughter of Don and Kim Farrar and the sister of Gilliam County Judge Elizabeth Farrar Campbell.

After graduating high-school, Farrar moved to the Phoenix area, where she attended Arizona State University. After completing her Bachelor of Science, Farrar moved to Columbia, South Carolina where she received a Doctorate in Physical Therapy from the University of South Carolina.

Enjoying the South, Dr. Farrar then lived in Nashville, where she worked as a physical therapist at a children’s hospital. Farrar then lived in Austin where she served a variety of patients of different ages and demographics.

But as lovely as those cities are, Farrar missed her family and country life in Oregon. Two months ago, Farrar returned to Condon and was recently hired by the South Gilliam Health Center.

Haylee is excited to offer physical therapy services at the health center.

Administrator Hollie Winslow says that the SGHC board has been working to bring physical therapy to Condon for some time and is excited to offer this service.

“We’ve been working on this for several years,” Winslow explains. “It starts by listening to your patients and asking: What are the needs?”

Offering such a crucial service took a lot of planning and preparation, Winslow says and while there is uncertainty about how much business can be generated from physical therapy, ultimately the health center decided to go for it.

“It’s not easy to take the leap,” Winslow says, “but we just feel like we’re in a good position and it’s becoming harder and harder for our patients to get into physical therapy.”

Even before COVID, accessing physical therapy has been challenging for people in the John Day River Territory. It is common to wait several weeks or even months for an appointment in Heppner, The Dalles, Hermiston, The Tri-Cities or Portland. After gaining access, patients must then travel long distances to those appointments. Should a patient be in recovery from a surgery or injury, it is not uncommon to travel several times a week to a physical therapist. This often results in missed appointments or a decision to stop going to physical therapy, particularly in winter months.

Winslow says that after a lot of planning, the stars aligned, and the clinic decided to go for it. “Just taking that last step, it’s kind of a leap and we took it and it worked out with Haylee. She was ready to come back here so it was kind of meant to be.”

Meeting in the South Gilliam County Wellness Center, Farrar says that she is excited to be home and to bring her skillset to patients at the clinic. Farrar says that physical therapy and wellness counseling can make a big difference for people of all ages.

Working with children is a prime example and something that many people wouldn’t associate with physical therapy.

“For children, it could be anything from a child who is born with a certain diagnosis and not meeting milestones, or as you get older with sports injuries, growing pains and things like that,” Farrar explains.

As we get older, Farrar says that people sometimes learn to live with pain and that they eventually stop doing the things that they love to do or even things they have to do.

When asked how physical therapy and wellness counseling can help people in the area that work in physical jobs, such as in farming, ranching or at Waste Management, Haylee says that physical therapy can make a significant impact.

“I think of the longevity,” of working Haylee says. “Aches and pains are not normal, but we condition ourselves to believe that they are.” She says that asking what patients want their future to look like and counseling them is the key. “It’s never too late to come back and to restore some of that mobility,” Haylee says. Continuing to farm and ranch or to do heavier lifting can still be possible, Farrar says. But of equal or greater importance, it can also mean picking up children or grandkids without pain and getting on with our daily routines.

“When I think of physical therapy,” Dr. Farrar says, “I ask, how do we restore function to maximize what we do daily?”

With excellent providers from physicians’ assistants Mike Takagi and Dani Sperry, dental services from Dr. Michael Des Jardin, behavioral health services from Community Counseling Solutions and now physical therapy, the South Gilliam Health Center has achieved its goal of providing complete wrap-around services.

Haylee Farrar has also come full circle.

“I returned home to be closer to family,” Dr. Farrar said. “I am very thankful for this opportunity and to be able to give back to a community that continually gave so much to me growing up.”

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