City Council Notes: Oct 13th

Hello, my name is Sue Sierralupe. I am a proud member of George Brown’s ward. I am also the Clinic Manager of Occupy Medical, the free healthcare clinic that operates in the Park Blocks every Sunday from 12-4pm. I have mentioned in prior public comment periods here at city council, that our busy season is just starting up again.
This Sunday, we saw 53 patients. 28 were seen by our prescribers, 30 went through treatment, 14 were served in wound care. Support service aided 4 patients. We made referrals to our allies including Lion’s Club, White Bird and prescription support services. We fed and provided hygiene supplies for well over 100 visitors. It’s a busy 4 hours.
This Sunday was a bit more challenging to us not necessarily because of the increased numbers but because a segment of the population that we serve was agitated.
Come September, as the UO students return to campus, the police begin evicting the unhoused from their camps tucked away along the riverbanks. This makes them more visible than usual which is oddly ironic. It is no secret that our city is suffering from a serious lack of shelter for homeless citizens. Evicting them does not make them disappear. This is when we, at Occupy Medical, start seeing patients with signs of abuse. It is one of our seasonal upsurges.
This Sunday, as we were setting up our clinic, a member of our peacekeeping team came to get assistance to settle a problem at Kesey Square. An owner of a food cart there, had driven into the square, parked his car on the bricks and began yelling at the unhoused sitting by the Kesey statue. He threatened them and encouraged his dog to lunge at them. When my peacekeeper, who was on her way to her shift, interceded, he turned his abuse on her which included racist epitaphs. 
To our patients, this behavior, from this unstable citizen, was both outrageous and fairly commonplace. They frequently run into abusive people who are experts at finding victims that they perceive as voiceless. The news is filled with people like this attacking children, animals, the elderly and the disabled. The unhoused are attacked frequently. They don’t often report this abuse because they feel they have no voice and they endeavor it because they have no where else to go. Last Sunday, our people had Occupy Medical to serve as a safe haven. What happens the rest of the week?
What can you do? I will not presume to speak for our people but I am asking for their protection just as our city protects its other citizens. Please let our people have a place to rest this winter. Lift the camping ban. It’s the least you can do.

City Council Notes: Sep 22nd

Hello,

My name is Sue Sierralupe. I have been living in George Brown’s ward for over 20 years. I am also the clinic manager for Occupy Medical. Last time I was here, I gave a brief update on life in the clinic. We were having a brief lull in our patient load. This Sunday, our numbers increased by about 20%. We are seeing more children, particularly infants.
Last time I was here, I mentioned an enterovirus (EV D68) that was still a few states away and was causing serious problems for children and patients with asthma. Here I am 2 weeks later and this virus, for which we have no vaccine, has confirmed cases in CA, ID and WA. Believe me when I say that Oregon will be next. Since asthma rates for children in Eugene averages over 10% according to the 2013 study from OSU, citizens have every right to be concerned.
Our clinic serves a segment of the population that is often ignored. Health issues become more grave and harder to control the longer they are ignored. Many of our people lack the basics for good health. They don’t have good food, they don’t have heat, most of the time, they don’t even have dry socks. They are extremely vulnerable.
We are soliciting donations for respiratory infection control kits to be passed out at the clinic. These kits will include: masks, cough medicine, tissues, vitamins, herbal supplements, hand sanitizer, soap and information on disease control. We are reminding people to wash their hands properly, disinfect all surfaces and stay away from those that are ill. Although there are a few bumps to iron out on the Paid Sick Day ordinance here in Eugene, this is one of the changes that will make a difference for public health and I applaud you for endorsing it.
Our population is growing. We have more people collected in denser spaces, facing uncertain economic times and struggling to survive on less. One way you can help us is to open another rest stop for the unhoused so that people can maintain and recover from illnesses. Please remember that a roof is good medicine.
EV D68 is not the only disease that we will be battling this winter. It behooves us all as a community to build a climate in which all citizens can maintain good health: children and the elderly, women and men, housed and unhoused, rich and poor. If we work together wisely, we can make it through another winter and be better for it. Thank you for your continued support.

City Council Notes: Sep 8th

My name is Sue Sierralupe. I am lucky to live in Council member Brown’s ward. I also serve as the clinic manager for Occupy Medical. The clinic is shoring up for the winter at this time. We offered a very successful demo clinic in Florence with the help of St. Vincent de Paul last month. The citizens of Florence are interested in having us return and help them set up a duplicate clinic. They, like other areas of Lane County, are struggling to find enough health providers for an increasingly underserved patient population.
Last Sunday was probably our last calm clinic day before our “busy season” sets in. We served 47 patients within an age range of 18 months to 75 years. We also feed, thanks to community donations, between 100-150 people every week all within a 4 hour clinic day. The work that my volunteers do every week is nothing less than awe inspiring. I welcome each of you to come down any given Sunday for a tour. Occupy Medical is best witnessed in motion.
Our concerns for the winter are numerous. Our county is still vulnerable to the dangers of pertussis, H1N1, and other respiratory illnesses. We are now concerned about a new virus which is creeping its way through the midwest towards Oregon: Enterovirus EV-D68. D68 is an intestinal virus that manifests in the respiratory system. This makes it very easy to spread. It hits children and those with conditions like asthma the hardest. Those of you that have enjoyed the air quality this week are reminded how fragile Oregon’s air quality is.
We need to protect our citizens but, I fear that we don’t have enough providers in this county to treat those in need. Speaking personally, as a private citizen, I do not feel comfortable with offering treatment to our patients and then sending them back into the situations that worsen or caused the problems in the first place. This is why Occupy Medical works so hard to build alliances with other service organizations that can meet the needs of the vulnerable populations we serve.
I am grateful for your support of Occupy Medical. I cannot thank you enough for the new public bathrooms and our little hand-washing station. Hand-washing for 20 seconds with soap and water will stem the spread of viruses such as D68. I am personally asking you to open another rest stop before winter strikes us again and to stop the criminalization of homelessness by lifting the camping ban. These changes will make our service at Occupy Medical easier and it will make our community a healthier place to live in.

Occupy Medical Heads West

The Park Blocks at 8th and Oak will be a little lonelier this Sunday as Occupy Medical heads to Florence for a demonstration clinic on the coast. The weekend visit is sponsored by the Florence chapter of Healthcare for All Oregon. Once a year, Occupy Medical takes to the highways to share the message of healthcare for all to other Lane County citizens.

Occupy Medical is a group of dedicated health care professionals and support personnel, who believe health care is a basic human right that must be made accessible to everyone regardless of ability to pay, are coming to Florence, Sunday July 20, noon to 4 p.m. to offer free medical services to all who are in need. A staff of certified prescribers along with a support team of intake, triage, treatment, wound care, mental health workers and peacekeepers comprise the team of volunteers.

The famous Eugene based Occupy Medical bus will be setting up in the St. Vincent De Paul parking lot with the expressed goal of demonstrating the free clinic approach in various communities around Lane county. Their motto is: If need help – you get help’.

“Showing how our current, for-profit system is failing to provide care for all citizens should be a wake-up call for all of us.” says Stuart Henderson. ”The industrialized countries of the world have long ago figured out the many advantages of systems that leave no one behind.”

The clinic team typically serves between 40 to 60 patients in Eugene during their 4 hour Sunday stint. In the process it’s estimated that they save the county $10,000 per week. Occupy Medical will return to its usual spot the following Sunday, July 27th.

Anyone interested in learning about Healthcare for All Oregon’s push to build a statewide movement to bring publicly funded health care to Oregon is invited to stop by, visit www.hcao.org, or call Stuart Henderson at 541 997-2997

Save Whoville

On Thursday, January 16th, The Eugene Police Department (EPD) announced that Whoville, located on the corner of Broadway and Hilyard, would be served with an eviction notice the following morning. The city of Eugene released a statement to the Register Guard that the evicted parties could either go to the approved rest-stop at Roosevelt and Garfield which is already at maximum capacity or that they could potentially receive assistance from local services to transition into safe and legal shelter; waiting lists are already frustratingly long. The mention of the city-approved Rest Stop has since been redacted.

The citizens of Whoville have courageously created a safety net for many who otherwise seek dubious refuge in various corners of the city. At Whoville they share supplies, food, clean water, bathrooms and a hand-washing station. The occupants check in on each other frequently as they depend on each other for physical and mental support.

Occupy Medical offers preventative treatment for many issues that commonly afflict Un-housed citizens during wintertime, including but not limited to: Influenza, H1N1, Bronchitis, Pneumonia/Atypical Pneumonia, Urinary Tract Infections, and an array of skin conditions such as Trench Foot and Frostbite. Dispersing this segment of our community puts OM out of their reach and at further risk for illness. By forcing Whoville to close without other viable shelter, the mental and physical well-being of these people are put at further risk. Under these circumstances, it is less likely that they will or can access the health care they need.

Life on the streets is dangerous. Sleep deprivation chips away at the body and the mind. Separating Eugene’s Whoville citizens from access to adequate healthcare is a serious issue. Separating Eugene’s Whoville citizens from a bathroom is a serious contamination issue for the entire community. Roughly 40-50 people stay at Whoville. That’s about 1500 pounds of fecal matter a month that mayno longer be disposed of in a sanitary manner, as stated by Alley Valkyrie.

We at Occupy Medical, feel compelled to remind you that two short weeks ago Mayor Piercy graciously bestowed an award of service upon OM, recognizing the importance of “…significant efforts to address the health needs of our community’s most vulnerable residents,” and we do implore you, City of Eugene and Eugene Police Department to:

-Cease and rescind the eviction.

-Find secure, safe, and legal shelter for these individuals.

-Make significant efforts to address the health needs of our community’s most vulnerable residents.

The eviction of Whoville will only increase the risk of exposure and transmission of illnesses that have been otherwise successfully prevented or treated with our partnership. We stand by our belief that health care is a human right and we care about the people in this community dearly. The removal and dispersal of the people of Whoville will have negative effects on us all.

Please, we implore you, don’t exile these people back to the shadows.

Respectfully

The Volunteers of Occupy Medical