White Bird Expands

Eugene-based medical clinic spreads its wings to help those in need

A quick pass any given day of the week through the 300 block of East 12th Avenue reveals a stark truth: The White Bird Clinic is bursting at the seams.

In the absence of political leadership to fully wrap its arms around Eugene’s homeless issue or assist low-income individuals and families, White Bird has been a beacon to many with its medical, crisis and restorative services. It works on a shoestring budget, with 200 staff members and more than 400 volunteers.

The nonprofit needs more elbow room, though, and on the 50th year since its founding in 1969 by student activists and concerned practitioners at 341 East 12th Avenue, White Bird is expanding again. 

According to Chris Hecht, co-director of White Bird, the crisis program will move June 1 to 990 West 7th Avenue. The program will house a 24-7 crisis phone service as well as walk-in services for trauma-informed space.

The new site is the former home of Lane County Medical Society, adjacent to the Whiteaker neighborhood and next to White Bird’s CAHOOTS base yard. The location gives White Bird a firm foothold in the Whit, long a goal of the organization, Hecht says.

The building came as-is. Renovation work is being done so that White Bird is in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

White Bird isn’t done, though. Far from it.

Additionally, White Bird is set to enlarge its dental services. It recently purchased a building at 1415 Pearl Street, which the organization will remodel. Among the goals of this purchase is for White Bird to serve 50 additional patients per week and increase its capacity to host student internships. 

In 2018, the dental clinic provided 6,319 treatment visits, both acute and preventative, for 2,819 patients, according to Hecht.

The dental program will vacate its current home at 1400 Mill Street. In its place on Mill Street there will be a new urgent care medical clinic for people who are homeless and/or low-income and uninsured.

This is important, Hecht notes, because in 2019 alone White Bird has had 2,226 visits to its urgent care clinic for 950 patients, almost half of them homeless. The need is there.

For more information on the White Bird Clinic, go to whitebirdclinic.org.