Merrill, Ore. – New regulations could force closure of two clinics that serve patients in southern Klamath county.
Family Nurse Practitioner Michael Sheets operates clinics in Merrill, and Bonanza. “9,000 patients a year is what we average – we also do 2,000 flu shots in this county.”
‘Michael’s the best.” Says patient Greg Matthews. “He’s been my practitioner for 20 years now, and I’m still alive.”
But, new regulations from the Oregon Health Authority could force the clinic to close.
“People that can live as far as 60 miles each way, or 120 miles that are Medicaid patients will have to go to town and see students, and bypass my clinic.” Explains Sheets.
“Everything is getting forced to go to Sky Lakes.” Says patient Robert Goold. “If they do that, Mike won’t be able to practice anymore.”
Matthews is concerned about the impact on the elderly, and the poor. “For them to go from here to Klamath Falls, it puts the burden on the people who can least afford it.”
Sheets believes the solution to the problem is simple. “Give people a choice. Allow them to go with the CCO, or do the open medical card…let them decide, and not the bureaucrats in Salem.”
“Nothing against Sky Lakes, they’re a great hospital.” Adds Goold. “But I like the little people.”
Sheets hopes he can keep the clinics open. “It runs, it works, it’s cost effective, easy access – don’t fix something that isn’t broke.”
Sheets says he faced a similar situation 8 years ago, which was resolved when former state lawmakers Doug and Gail Whitsett worked with then-Governor Kitzhaber to keep the clinic open.
KOTI-TV NBC2 reporter Lyle Ahrens moved from Nebraska to Klamath Falls in the late 1970’s. He instantly fell in love with the mountains, the trees and the rivers, and never once regretted the move.Lyle’s job history is quite colorful.
He’s managed a pizza parlor; he’s been a bartender, and a “kiwifruit grader” at an organic orchard in New Zealand. A Klamath Falls radio station hired Lyle in the mid 90’s as a news writer and commercial producer. In 2004, Lyle joined the KOTI/KOBI news operation.Lyle notes with pride that he has a big responsibility presenting the Klamath Basin to a wide and varied audience.
“The on-going water crisis has underscored the fact that the people and the issues in the Klamath Basin are every bit as diverse as the terrain. Winning and keeping the trust of the viewers, as well as the newsmakers, is something I strive for with each story”.
When he’s not busy reporting the news, Lyle enjoys astronomy, playing guitar, fixing old radios and listening to anything by Sheryl Crow.