Pine-Strawberry Health Services, Inc. oversees the building and general operation of the Pine-Strawberry Medical Clinic. This clinic came about by way of a dream. In 1979, the community was classified as a medically distressed area. With a growing population, the Pine-Strawberry Chamber of Commerce starting in 1980 spent considerable time and money to locate a doctor for the community.

The days, then the months passed, and yes, years passed. In early 1983, a group of residents got together and did something once and for all. They created a steering committee of dedicated community minded people. Their ranks included retirees, volunteer firefighters, real estate agents, search and rescue volunteers, and anyone willing to spend hours exploring the dream of a medical clinic. Many hours were put into this committee.

Early 1984 saw action in big ways. In April 1984, the Pine-Strawberry Heath Clinic Corporation was formed.

“The primary purpose for which this corporation is organized is to form a medical clinic for the general welfare and health of the public and not for profit,” according to early material from the clinic.

Officers were elected and negotiations started with a health provider. Donations were raised. Plans were made for a building. A land lease was arranged for through the Bert Randall family for a lot on Hardscrabble Road. The original lease was $10 per year, and in 1988 the Bert Randall Family Trust donated the land to the PSHC and the community.

One man involved in the project since 1979 was Ernie Ralls, Sr. He donated a residential lot to be sold and the proceeds to be used for construction. Others pledged labor, some materials, and others money. Donation jars were placed around town. No donation was too small. Many of the people who donated their labor still work and live in the community.

The dream of a local medical clinic became a reality because of dedicated community members. Their reward was seeing a shovel full of dirt turned at the start of construction in April 1985.

After incorporation, Pine-Strawberry Health Services got a doublewide mobile from the Arizona Department of Health Services to function as the first clinic from 1984 to 1986, while they completed the permanent structure.

The original building was constructed in a way to provide for future expansion. The need for additional space occurred in 1995 when there were more than 4,000 patient visits in a year. In 1996, another series of fundraisers began and they constructed the addition. The addition provided much needed space for the daily operations of the expanding clinic.

Over the years there have been a series of difficulties as there is with any organization. There have been longtime providers as well as periods with no provider. There have been financial issues as well.

The Pine-/Strawberry Health Services board maintains the clinic building and finds providers. Once a provider is hired, they handle their practice. Being in a rural community poses some unique issues with availability of medical care.

“Over the past years we have had many excellent qualified medical providers serving the communities of Pine and Strawberry. Currently, our provider is Tamara H. Rector, RN, MSN, FNP through Banner Medical Group. We look forward to a long continued relationship with Banner Medical Group,” said Heidi Hess, board secretary. “An excellent primary care provider, Tamara Rechter, has been in practice at this location for over four years now, seeing patients Monday through Thursday. New patient applications are available at the reception area in the clinic.”

The Pine-Strawberry Health Clinic held its annual elections in June and board members include: Sheri Earp, president; Annetta Follmer, vice president; Heidi Hess, secretary; Sam Sibley, treasurer; and directors Dale Bellisfield, Deb Arthur, Deb Walker, Howard Kaiser and James Daugherty.

“The job of the board is to maintain our health clinic building, maintain our nonprofit status, and lease to a provider that will provide easily accessible primary care to the residents of Pine and Strawberry,” said Hess. “Vivian Seville, our valued massage therapist has been providing excellent safe services for over 19 years, even during this time of COVID.”

There will be challenges for future generations as the medical world continues to change. The hope is that people will continue to support the clinic by becoming a member.

According to Sibley, while PSHC, Inc. is solvent and doing well financially, they could use some fresh faces. “Our members have been depleted by age, people moving away, and passing,” Sibley said. “We have about 200 members where we used to have about 500.”

“A lifetime membership costs $25 and you can buy more than one,” she said. “Community interest is our primary goal.”

In November, community members completed a revitalization of the east grounds at the clinic.

The board thanks Dallas Randall for delivering and spreading rock at the clinic and board members Sibley, Bellisfield, Kaiser, Hess, Eaton and Daugherty for putting on the final touches.

“We are hoping to find some unique items to put on this area on the side of the clinic. Things like rock art/cement benches and other items that would lend to a zen/meditation area,” said Hess. “And a big shout out to Payson Concrete for their part in this project.”

If you would like to be a member of the clinic board, with voting rights for annual board elections, a donation of $25 will provide the donor with one “share” and one vote for each board director opening annually. A member is also eligible to run for office on the board. Your member request and donation may be sent to Pine-Strawberry Health Services, Inc., P.O. Box 270, Pine, AZ 85544.

Finally, moisture — get a burn permit

The community received a bit of snow this week. Pine-Strawberry Fire Department (PSFD) Fire Chief John Wisner suggests that property owners take advantage of the cooler temps and recent rain and get a permit to burn pine needles and brush piles that have been sitting and waiting.

Call the PSFD, 928-476-4272, during business hours, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. and request a burn permit. Fire personnel will visit your property to be sure the burn is in a safe location, has a water source nearby, and appropriate materials are being burned.

COVID in Pine

Many of our restaurants have closed for a week to 10 days and the rumor mill is rife with explanations. I found the real reason is responsible business owners. At some restaurants, owners have had one or more employees become ill, and others are taking precaution to protect their employees. But in all cases, the decision to close the business temporarily was at the behest of the owners.

You can check a business’ social media page, or make a phone call to find out if your favorite place has reopened.

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