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. We had a wet and soggy day at OM yesterday. Despite the torrential rain, 45 patients made it to our clinic. The tent canvas is still drying out under a shelter. Some of our patients do not have this option. They just stay wet. And cold.
You may have seen an article yesterday in the Register Guard on an elderly unhoused woman named Susan who takes shelter from the elements in corners of the downtown landscape. The person featured has a special place in my heart. I met her a few years ago when Occupy Medical was just a little pop-up tent by the fountain.
An officer pulled me aside and pointed her out to me. He was worried about her fragile health. He had seen that her limp was worsening. He suggested that we meet.
Susan was leery of me when I first walked up to her cart. She pulled back and ducked her head. She had discovered that it was best to stay unseen on the streets. After a brief introduction and few minutes of speaking with each other, she warmed up to me and we soon became fast friends.
I count myself lucky to be on Team Susan. She has a ready wit and warm smile. We are both animal lovers and neither of us have outgrown our girlhood love of horses. This winter will be hard on her. She is worried that she won’t last the season.
There are wonderful things that you, as City council have done to make our patients lives better. Since the new bathrooms have popped up, UTIs have decreased within our patient load. Chemical burns from pesticides and herbicides that were obtained by laying on the grass in a public park used to a regular event. I haven’t seen a case like this for many months. Flu control is much easier now that public hand-washing is available at the Park Blocks. You are making a difference.
There is more work to do. We need secured sharps containers in our parks. We need another rest stop beyond Nightingale. We are in a state of emergency. People like Susan have nowhere to go. She tucks into a new corner every couple of nights. Tonight is her birthday. My gift to her is to advocate for her again tonight. Please lift the camping ban this winter. Please give Susan a chance to make it through another winter.