— Letter from Tax Justice’s Susan Barnhart
I love paying taxes for life affirming things and would be happy to pay even more to ensure free good public education from early intervention through college, free good health care, and a social system that ensured everyone had a home and enough to eat. I would also love paying taxes toward cleaning up our environment, finding solutions to climate change and improving our beautiful national forests and parks. What I don’t like is how much of our tax dollars go to war and the support of wars and the killing of civilians including innocent children. I don’t want my money to support a system that increases the number of people across the world that hate US citizens.
Over 50% of our taxes support war, the military industrial complex and the interest on our debt from past wars. The proposed budget will lower the funding of human services and the environment and increase the military budget. I want our country’s priorities to change. I want to help make the USA kind.
I am not willingly paying the taxes I owe since I can’t condone killing people by paying for war. Instead I will redirect the resisted tax dollars to the following local causes; our public radio station, KLCC, Sponsors, an organization providing reentry services for prisoners returning to Lane County, Occupy Medical, Planned Parenthood, Skipping Stones, an internationally known magazine for children promoting peace, social justice and protecting the environment, 350.org, working tirelessly for our future and Community Alliance of Lane County and Latin America Solidarity Committee, both working hard for peace and social justice.
c.c. President trump
Representative Peter DeFazio
Senator Jeff Merkely
Senator Ron Wyden
Community Alliance of Lane County
Latin America Solidarity Network
My name is Sue Sierralupe. I have lived in Council member George Brown’s ward for over 20 years. I am also the clinic manager for Occupy Medical which has been serving the public as a free integrated health care unit for 3 years now.
We have been enjoying the break in the weather lately. It gives us a chance to catch up a bit. We did not have new frostbite patients this week. We can continue to treat the tissue damage from frostbite victims of November and the pain expressed as peripheral neuropathy from last winter’s victims. One must be grateful for the small favors the weather grants us.
There are some wonders of holiday season if you are a public servant. Citizens open their hearts to the plight of those that are less financially fortunate than themselves. We have had complete strangers and familiar faces like Ms. Dotson, show up with bags of donated socks, hand warmers and gloves. How nice to see that girl scout troop here looking for the same items that we need.
Our clinicians will note on their paperwork when a patient needs these warming items along with needed medication. The treatment team walks the patient to the hospitality tent to suit them up. Gotta follow doctor’s orders.
We were tickled to have a visit from a home-school group. Our board president, who is a loving father and a real kid person, delighted in giving them a tour before the clinic started. These children donated hand stitched portable sewing kits for the population we serve. They made them from felt and each had buttons, thread, pins, and sewing needles. Very handy for a population that wears tattered hand me downs. Each kit was a little different. Some had decorative ribbon. Some had fabric swatches used as covers. One of them had a rainbow drawn on the felt with a magic marker. What treasures!
I was happy to be in the room when you, city council, made the unanimous decision to approve these 2 new rest stops. Thank you so much! We see people make a big turn around in their lives when they are offered a place to safely sleep the night. It is an unpleasant fact that violence against the unhoused increases around this time of year too. We have not puzzled the reason for this trend out yet but I will let you know when we do. Having a place that allows our citizens to safely store their necessary items such as medicine, eat food that can be properly heated, change into dry clothes, sleep a full 8 hours and have protection from the elements. Bless you all for the work that you do to help our people. It makes a world of difference.
My name is Sue Sierralupe. I live in George Brown’s ward. I also have the honor to serve in this ward as the clinic manager of Occupy Medical. This is the week of Thanksgiving and I am here to count my blessings even though I should, by rights, be home baking pies for the oncoming horde of hungry relatives.
I am grateful for many things. I am happy that the Poverty and Homelessness Board has assembled to problem solve on the plight of economically desolate in our area. I was able to take off work long enough to attend one of the meetings. It was a brain storming session. We were lucky to be able to take some of these ideas to the University of Oregon the following week. My prayer is that they will act on these ideas and, at the very least, open a rest stop for unhoused students on their property. I would hope that students from all the local colleges would qualify to take refuge there.
I am grateful for the news that the county proposed a new rest stop at the Serbu/LCBH site. As a member of Occupy Medical, I have noticed that we will get visits from patients with serious conditions until they get housed at OVE or a rest stop. Then the visits slow or stop. The reason is that a sheltered person is able to set up necessary service and have the stability to heal.
I am grateful that Occupy Medical was honored with another award this year. Our clinic is an integrated health clinic meaning that we have complimentary holistic care along side “regular” medical care much in the same way that the Mayo Clinic is run. The American Herbalist Guild is the alternative care equivalent to the AMA. They gave us their annual community service award which delighted and encouraged my staff.
I am grateful that we had another celebrity visitor to our clinic this Sunday. Batman came by with his dad. Unlike what you may have learned in movies and comic books, Batman is actually 5 years old and sometimes substitutes a plastic sword for his utility belt.
This little superhero was very good at defending his father from evil and also took my advice about crime fighting more quietly in the clinical setting in stride. It is not easy to raise a child on the streets. There are some places to find shelter for families but those are challenging to find during this weather. Until their names come up, Batman and his dad have to hide. It is still illegal to camp in our fair city. I know that there are many reasons why the city is reticent to lift the camping ban for the winter. I could not find a good way to explain this to Batman. He is just too young to understand. I ask you to reconsider your position. We would all be grateful.
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.
“Register Guard: The Depth of Winter”
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.
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.
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.