In the spring of 2001, community members of Howell and Oregon counties came together in a series of community meetings hosted by the Missouri Primary Care Association to discuss access to care issues in the area. As a result, a committee was formed. According to board president, Scott Corman, "The intent of the committee was to pursue section 330 funding to create a Federally Qualified Health Center in West Plains, and with a long-term goal of opening a facility in Oregon County."
In Feb. 2003, Southern Missouri Community Health Center Medical Clinic opened its doors in West Plains. In July they opened a dental clinic and in March 2005 mental health service began also in West Plains.
The medical clinics currently have two physicians, Gregory Rakestraw and Jeffery Dryden, two nurse practitioners, one physician assistant and two mental health providers. There are also two dentists at the West Plains location. The West Plains clinic is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is located at 1137 Independence Drive.
In April 2006, the Oregon County Community Health Center opened at 201 Market Street in Thayer, offering primary care, patient medical assistance and mental health services. The center was open for business three days a week and shared space with the Oregon County Health Department.
In June 2008, the clinic moved to a new 4,800 square foot facility north of Thayer. The clinic is open Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 8 a.m. to noon and 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Pat Richards serves as the CEO for the clinic. The clinic is governed by a 15 member board of directors from Howell and Oregon counties.
Medical services include: acute and chronic care, physicals for all age groups, diabetic and blood preassure care, GYN and women's health services, immunizations, dermatology, orthopedics, colon cancer screenings and laboratory services. Mental health services include assessment, treatment and support for children, adolescents, adults, families, couples and groups.
The clinic accepts most private insurances, Medicare and Medicaid. A sliding fee program is available for patients who qualify financially, based on federal poverty levels and family size. The medication assistance program helps those who qualify financially obtain prescription medication at an affordable rate.