Bill Walter – First Oregon ND Hired by County Health Dept.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
Posted by: Brook Schales
Bill Walter –
First Oregon ND Hired by County Health Dept.
By: Laura Farr | Executive Director, OANP
More than once, Bill Walter thought about throwing in the towel and
leaving Oregon to look for greener pastures. Possibly even leaving naturopathic
medicine altogether. For some, this might sound like a familiar tune.
After a year of attending committees, subcommittees, workgroups,
community hearings, testifying and listening, Trillium CCO in Lane County was
still dragging its feet about credentialing NDs. With the low-income population
that Dr. Walters wanted to treat unable to pay out of pocket for care,
maintaining a private practice and supporting his own family was difficult, if
But even while he kept his eyes open for possible job opportunities
elsewhere, Dr. Walters doggedly continued to attend Trillium’s myriad meetings
and workgroups, to offer testimony and to network with Trillium’s leadership in
hallways, church, breakfast and luncheon meetings.
In time, he was asked to chair one of Trillium’s committees to
overhaul their chronic pain management protocols – the first naturopathic
doctor to hold such a position of leadership in Trillium’s system – and despite
the fact that Trillium was not yet bringing NDs into their network.
Every month, sometimes every week, Dr. Walters would check in with
Trillium leadership to keep them focused on how they could integrate
naturopathic doctors into the CCO, to plant seeds about how they might want to
factor covering natural products into the equation, and to share golden nuggets
about naturopathic outcomes and patient satisfaction.
His doggedness led to Trillium opening its doors to credentialing
NDs as specialists and to reviewing options to credential NDs as PCPs.
Eventually, his deep medical knowledge and ability to "play well
with others in the sandbox” caught the attention of the county’s health
department Medical Director, who soon started talking to Dr. Walter about
working for the county. This too, took time, as county administrators neither
knew how to write a job description for NDs nor how to categorize NDs in their
But at the end of the day (and a long year and half), Dr. Walters
has accepted a position as the first Naturopathic Doctor in Oregon to be hired
by the Community Health Centers of Lane County – a county-run
Federally-Qualified Health Center.
He is now doing a mix of general primary care and specialty naturopathic
medicine, including doing spinal manipulations, extended visits for lifestyle
counseling, and using botanicals and supplements (for which the patient
currently has to pay). He can take "in-house" referrals as the
naturopathic specialist, as well as manage his own panel of primary-care
patients. He’s also part of the "group visit" team, developing ways
to do group visits for chronic disease.
OANP is extremely grateful to Dr. Walter for all of his work
"breaking the sound barrier.” Please join me in thanking him for his
achievements so far. I’m sure there’ll be many more to come!