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Bill Walter – First Oregon ND Hired by County Health Dept.

Sunday, August 18, 2013   (1 Comments)
Posted by: Brook Schales
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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 not impossible.

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 system!

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!


Rebecca Provorse says...
Posted Sunday, November 24, 2013
Way to blaze the trail, Dr. Walter!

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