News for those who live, work and play in the Santiam Canyon

Hospital team earns award for recovery work

Reporter for The Canyon Weekly

Carmelle Bielenberg (left) gives Melissa Baurer, Tanni Swisher and Kimberly Dwyer the Community Impact Award during the Stayton Sublimity Chamber of Commerce annual awards luncheon on March 17.

The Stayton Sublimity Chamber of Commerce has honored the Service Integration program at Santiam Hospital with its first community impact award.

The honor, designed to recognize an individual, business or organization that makes a positive, measurable impact on the community, was announced at the chamber’s 76th awards luncheon on March 17 in Stayton.

The Service Integration group, led by Melissa Baurer, has played a key role in Santiam Canyon wildfire recovery efforts. 

In fact, one of its three teams, is devoted exclusively to initiatives in the canyon, and its efforts have led to more than $2 million being paid to survivors through the Santiam Canyon Wildlife Relief fund. More than 400 households registered with the team through the end of December, with 327 of them moving into case management services.

“Santiam Service Integration and Santiam Hospital are honored to receive the Community Impact Award,” Baurer said. “It’s a reminder of the strength and resiliency of our families and individuals we serve through our three teams as well as through our disaster program. 

“The donors and community members who choose to support our efforts, the team members who advocate on behalf of families, and the people we have the privilege of serving are who make up the program. For them we are grateful. It’s a testament of the integrity of our program. We are thankful for the generous recognition.”

The service integration project started in July, 2017 with efforts to assist the three school districts in the hospital’s service area, Cascade, North Santiam and Santiam Canyon. 

“When the fires happened,” Baurer said, “our program accepted the role of providing disaster services.”

The Service Integration group has contracts with the Oregon Department of Human Service (ODHS) and St. Vincent de Paul and has grown in its nearly five years to include 248 team members that represent a network of 130 entities – government organizations, nonprofits, clubs, businesses, faith based programs, and community members. 

“Team members identify needs in the community and leverage resources and knowledge to meet those needs,” Baurer said. “When there are no resources to meet a need the team member can request funding for the team that falls within the geographical area of the need,” 

The organization is dynamic, growing and integrated (there is that word again). Baurer hired Kim Dwyer
to coordinate the teams. Tanni Swisher serves as director of operations. An ODHS case manager and three members of the Salem-based Arches low-income housing programs work with service integration at its office in Stayton. A total of 14 paid hospital staffers are involved with Santiam Canyon recovery.

Here is how chamber officials described the effects of the team’s work in remarks delivered at the luncheon:

“When the wildfires happened, Santiam Service Integration took swift action, organizing to help victims with basic immediate needs such as food, gas, clothes and shelter. 

“This team consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty to provide care and compassion as they champion for those who might otherwise have no advocate and no options.”

Also nominated for the community impact award were Dr. Sarah Comstock and the Maps Credit Union.

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