By Susan Latiolait for Eugene Daily News
Since its start in October of last year, Eugene’s Occupy Medical Clinic has continued to serve Eugene residents who do not have health insurance. Located at the Park Blocks on 8th and Oak between 12pm and 4pm every Sunday the clinic started as a simple first aid tent. Today, Occupy Medical aims to model the single payer health care system, as they believe it is best for everyone. They have not only grown in the amount of patients they are able to offer and the amount of volunteered help they receive each week.
First serving about 16 to 18 patients each Sunday, the clinic is now serving about 20-25 patients, due to the exponential amount of volunteer support and help that certified health care members are able to provide.
Consequently, Occupy Medical is looking to possibly open a Friday clinic as well.
Sue Sierralupe, the Occupy Medical Clinic Manager, is overwhelmed with the continued growth in volunteer numbers, and she is grateful to see how willing these “cream of the crop” workers are to provide care to the Eugene community.
“These health care providers who are volunteering for us are relieved to finally have a place where they can open up and advocate for their patients,” said Sierralupe. “And that is what we do, we are all about the patients. Insurance companies don’t tell us what do, we just offer the best patient care.”
As their services grow, so does the support from the community. This is not to say the clinic has not had its fair share of trouble. In December of 2011, the Occupy Medical Clinic faced initial trouble from Eugene police due to the fact that around 40 perfect of the patents were homeless.However, Sierralupe has noticed a tremendous difference in the community’s reaction to their services.
“The police, like the general public, seem to have completely changed their views from what they initially thought Occupy Medical was. Now, I see nothing but support. They realize we are there to help just like they are,” explained Sierralupe. “That kind of evolution is what I really love.”
With strong community support, Occupy Medical is now looking to provide even further care, particularly to their high percentage of homeless patients. Sierralupe said that helping the homeless is deep in her heart, and with colder months ahead, she is specifically concerned with diseases such as whooping cough and pneumonia affecting Eugene’s homeless population.
“They can’t get the required bed rest, the can’t stay warm, they can’t get a good night sleep, so you can bet they will have hard time getting the proper medication and they will catch these diseases and they will die,” stated Sierralupe. “And this is why Lane County Health is so interested in helping our community before it comes around.”
Along with offering vaccines and possibly opening a Friday clinic, Sierralupe and Occupy Medical are hoping to have open and available public bathrooms for both patients and workers. Furthermore, they are looking forward to continue their alliance with St.Vincent de Paul with their dental clinics that they offer four times a year, with their next clinic being held on January 12th.
Eventually Sierralupe would like to see Occupy Medical clinics spread out among the community. She is also looking forward to and hoping for the day when health care is provided to everybody without any exceptions.
“In the long run, I don’t want the need for Occupy Medical,” Sierralupe explained. “I would like to see the right to health care for all. It is unhealthy to have un-managed health conditions around our community, not for anyone. It is our belief that everyone should have health care. You cannot survive as a community with unhealthy members, and I don’t think health care for everyone is that much to ask.”
If you want to learn more about the Occupy Medical Clinic or want to support their efforst, visit their site at www.occupymedics.wordpress.com.