Occupy Eugene is tired of all the talk about the state of America’s health care system and is taking action by treating those in need of medical care for free and connecting them with other community services.
On Sunday, Feb. 5, at the corner of 7th and Pearl, OE organizers set up a medical tent outside the old Federal Building with doctors and nurses available for basic medical treatment, and the group has a long-term plan to continue on every Sunday.
“We think that health is a basic human right and so we’re here to provide that for people,” says Terry Purvis, medical coordinator for OE. “We don’t think that your health should depend on how much money you have or where you live.”
Purvis and other Occupiers were met with supportive honks by passing drivers. The offering of free medical services is an attempt to fill the gap left by the inequitable healthcare system, Purvis says. This includes the homeless population but also those who are without means to pay for care, whether with or without health insurance.
The medical tent is also a way for OE to refer patients to other organizations that offer free or low-cost medical care in the area. Lane County Public Health is just a block away from the tent’s downtown location. White Bird Clinic, a Eugene-based nonprofit agency, is also nearby, and Volunteers in Medicine is a medical clinic in Springfield.
“These are great organizations that run on shoestring budgets to serve the same community that we are helping,” says Sue Sierralupe, Occupy medical organizer and volunteer.
OE organizers chose to set up the tent on Sundays in part because the other organizations are unavailable then. Clients who access the OE medical tent will be given anonymity if desired, but the group plans to keep records on the illnesses and injuries.
In the future, OE hopes to expand into a more vigilant street program, and also care for those with mental illness and provide dental services. Those interested in helping out are encouraged to contact Purvis at firstname.lastname@example.org