A Eugene mobile clinic brought its services to downtown Roseburg on Saturday for those lacking access to basic health care.
The Occupy Medical Roseburg Clinic set up at Eagles Park, with patients coming to its small trailer for four hours from 11 to 3 p.m. at the plaza at the corner of Lane and Jackson streets. The trailer is the exam room for those who came seeking medical attention.
Occupy Medical is an all-volunteer nonprofit made up of 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.
While the clinic’s focus remains on the transient population, clinic physician Willie Foster said Occupy Medical will not turn anyone away.
“It’s for anybody,” said Foster, who volunteers with the Eugene-based group. “But obviously quite a few of our people are homeless, or they might have OHP (Oregon Health Plan), and it may just be hard for them to get to their assigned doctor because of transportation issues.”
Foster said they also serve some people that have health insurance but face a high deductible.
Occupy Medical travels to several rural locations around southwest Oregon including Coos Bay and Florence. They were invited to come to Roseburg by Feed the Burg, an organization that feeds people at Eagles Park across the street from the First Presbyterian Church each Saturday. Clinic organizers plan to make Roseburg a regular stop on their schedule.
“At this point, we’ve kind of committed to coming down here once a month, but we might move to the third Saturday of each month,” Foster said.
This was the clinic’s second trip to Roseburg, following its previous visit in December. One of the big challenges is getting the word out when they will be in town and what services they offer. Much of the information has been dispersed through Facebook.
“We’ve put a lot of the emphasis for spreading the word on Feed the Burg, because we don’t live in this town,” said Clinic Manager Sue Sierralupe.
The clinics require no appointments. People can just show up, fill out medical privacy and liability forms.
Foster conducts a much larger clinic in Eugene every Sunday, will visit with patients to find out their needs, and will write prescriptions, if necessary.
“Any chronic medicine that people are on for depression, high blood pressure, diabetes, I’m willing to refill,” he said. “There are lots of refills of medications.”
They distribute herbal medicine, and patients can talk to an actual herbalist to match up the right herb for the condition. But they don’t give out any scheduled meds. They also give out a lot of cough syrup and vitamins.
“It’s patient-centered care,” Sierralupe said. “Because we don’t take insurance, we have the luxury to offer that. We don’t make judgments on what people can afford, we get everything donated, and we work with a lot of different communities and the important thing is the patient is getting what they need.”
They don’t give any schedule prescription drugs, and Foster stresses that even though they give herbal medicine to patients, they do not hand out marijuana.
Clinic officials are hoping to get smaller communities to share their resources so they can expand the free clinics to the smaller towns.