Waterfall Healthcare Facility: The not so new kid on the block


Waterfall Clinic is improving access to the Coos Bay community and neighboring areas with the addition of a new office. The recently developed residence takes up a modern space in the newly arrived and still spreading Coos Bay village off Highway 101, across from the Red Lion Hotel. Anyone living in Coos County is welcome to visit them at their new location. 

While Waterfall Community Health Center they have been a prominent staple in Coos County, with three clinics serving different needs, the new clinic will focus primarily on mental health. The range of procedures in the new clinic will vary widely from patient to patient, all depending on the patient’s needs. The expansion is also part of Waterfall Clinic’s recognition that mental health treatment is difficult to find in such a rural area. 

There will be many new positions and specialists, ranging from mental health therapists to psychiatrists. This advanced waterfront facility is focused on mental health and can serve up to 60 patients a day currently, and it’s still expanding. 

In general, mental health is often stigmatized and treatment can be frowned upon. This can prevent people from seeking appropriate treatment for illnesses and mental disorders, which can affect an individual’s daily life. Fortunately, the negative view of mental health treatment has slowly been declining. More than ever, people are feeling comfortable seeking their needed treatments. 

“We value teens as human and uphold their trust,” said Waterfall Clinic Behavioral Health Assistant Program Manager Jordan McLaren. “We want to make this a safe space where they feel like their voices are heard and deemed important. We want students to have the opportunity to get help when they need it, and to have easy access to a space where you can get treatment.”

 Traditionally, most Marshfield High School students utilize the Waterfall Clinic that is adjacent to the high school campus. It serves students and community members by giving them access to mental health treatments, physical health treatments such as sports physicals, and access to reproductive health treatments and preventative measures. With the new mental health facility opening, some students may choose to visit practitioners there, which will open up the clinic for more physical health ailments.

“Our mission is to get help to everyone in the community,” said McLaren. “The new building helps to accomplish this, putting all mental and psychiatric in one building. We are constantly looking at needs to be assisted, like asking the community what they need, and we try very hard to meet it.” 

Right now, school nurses can help students with basic over-the-counter pain medications, ice packs, and Band-Aids. But, with school nurses shared between schools in the district, finding help on campus can sometimes be difficult. That is when Waterfall Clinic can step in to be the vital backup plan that can save a student from going home or suffering from a killer headache that distracts them from their class. School nurses also don’t have access to many of the same medications and treatments that Waterfall has privy to, which makes it a valuable source for students and nurses alike when an injury gets a little too out of hand. 

“School nurses have limitations, having a facility so close to the school gives more opportunity to accomplish more via a more collaborative relationship,” McLaren said.

Students also have the option to make their mental health treatment plans private from their guardians at the age of 14, and physical health choices can be private at the age of 16. This has been a debatable topic in the local county, with some citing that it is encouraging irresponsible sexual behavior among young teens, especially with the clinic so close to the high school campus. It is important to note that Waterfall Clinic does not only assist in reproductive health treatments and medications but also has many other important services. 

“It’s just easier to make your own choices and establish independence,” said MHS senior Violet Schell, who utilizes the clinic for healthcare needs.

In the high-school years, many students are trying to find the perfect balance between independence and relying on their support system and guardians. Having the option where students can opt for full confidentiality can give students a way to step into their own person, and still have their guardians close by for any questions and support.
“I sign myself out since I’m 18,” says Schell. “If you’re underage, you can still go to the office to get signed out, with full confidentiality and privacy from outside sources. I schedule it so I can go during periods where I have no classes.” 

Being able to sign yourself out knowing that the workers in the office and those who access the school system are understanding and that they keep it private to those who do not have the right to know is comforting to students who are seeking help. It helps ease the anxiety that can come from being stigmatized and getting used to going to clinics without a guardian to help.

“I trust my provider at Waterfall; Dr. Gerber is always professional and warm, making me feel at ease,” said Alec Marvel, 19, who has used Waterfall services for approximately four years. “I also enjoy the option to keep my medical records private from my parents. I feel like I’m at that age where I can ask them for advice, but still make the decisions since I’m the one who has to live with them.” 

Waterfall Clinic also provides options for students facing food insecurity. The Veggie RX program gives students and adults alike struggling with food insecurity an option for fresh fruit and veggies to help them have access to important nutrients and food groups that may have been inaccessible before. They also lend a helping hand to those who need to set up insurance, get stable housing, help with job-hunting, or transportation to and from health appointments. Not only do they provide these aids, but they also help with community beautification and art projects. 

“The environment there is very cozy, I go to the North Bend location and the staff is always friendly,” Alec Marvel said. “I would say my experience at Waterfall has overall been a very pleasant one, and I plan on continuing using their services for a very long time.”