White Bird asks the community to share the warmth with our most vulnerable community members.
White Bird Clinic needs help supporting unhoused community members who are facing the onset of the winter season. We’re sending out a call for any and all warm winter gear, particularly blankets and sleeping bags. For those who spend most of their time outdoors, winter in Eugene can be tough. White Bird asks you to help us help all of us and build a healthy and strong community. Please bring any of the following tax-deductible donations to our main clinic building at 341 E 12th Ave. in Eugene:
White Bird Executive Coordinator Miles Mabray (front) stands with Fund Developer, Chris Hecht, in front of the dental and medical clinic currently serving 2,000 low-income patients annually. CREDIT TIFFANY ECKERT, KLCC
EUGENE, OREGON – White Bird Clinic will purchase the building at 1415 Pearl St. and redevelop it into a dental clinic to serve burgeoning community need. The existing dental facilities at 1400 Mill St will be renovated to add urgent care services to White Bird’s medical clinic.
The new building will allow White Bird dental to serve 50 additional patients each week and increase capacity to host student internships. The clinic will also provide denture care for elderly patients and allow White Bird to serve more children and families. White Bird medical’s new urgent care services will provide an alternative to hospital emergency room visits for patients experiencing an acute issue who lack health insurance.
“With the increase in community need for affordable urgent and preventative dental care, we’ve been on the lookout for a larger facility to better serve clients. When this opportunity came up, we knew we had to move on it immediately,” White Bird Dental Program Coordinator Kim Freuen said.
Founded in 1995, the dental clinic provides urgent care as well as preventative care. The program has continuously grown and is now constrained by its 23 year-old facility, and is not operating at optimal capacity due to a shortage of space. This year to date, the dental clinic has provided 4,848 visits for 1,992 patients:
829 for emergency care;
1,322 for hygiene/preventative care; and
2,697 for restorative care.
According to Trillium Community Health Plan, many of their patients don’t ever see a dentist. The last two Community Health Improvement Plans for Lane County identified affordable dental care as a major issue. Poor oral health presents significant challenges for many unhoused community members; White Bird recognizes that need and meets it.
White Bird Medical Clinic provides affordable and friendly medical care to indigent, homeless, low-income, and otherwise marginalized populations, such as community members who are employed but uninsured or underinsured. In addition to staff physicians, there is a behavioral health consultant and a psychiatric prescriber who collaborate with the physicians to offer integrated, holistic care. This year to date, the medical clinic has provided 2,226 visits for 950 patients. 1,020 of those visits were with unhoused patients.
Providing primary care to patients is crucially important, as White Bird’s patients often suffer from multiple complex medical issues that are compounded by socioeconomic barriers to health care and lifestyle changes. These community members face significant barriers as well as discrimination when attempting to access health care institutions in the community, and having White Bird primary care providers advocate for them and coordinate their care is vital.
The new medical urgent care service will divert a great number of emergency room visits, which are very costly for all stakeholders. White Bird Clinic is an equal opportunity provider and employer.
This past weekend represented an unusually high number of heroin and other opiate overdoses in the Eugene/Springfield area, but these overdoses have been in keeping with recently observed trends. There have been two distinct patterns of heroin and other opiate related overdoses occurring with increased frequency: poly-substance OD’s and fentanyl contaminated OD’s:
Poly-substance overdoses present a unique frustration to first-responders because they generally combine opiates, alcohol, and other substances often including benzodiazopenes or other prescription pharmaceuticals, which requires field stabilization and hospital treatment.
Fentanyl contamination has been detected in various street drugs and counterfeit prescription medications in the Pacific Northwest, and has been particularly common locally in a strain of heroin that has been encountered by users and first responders in recent weeks.
Lane Co. EMS, EPD, SPD, and CAHOOTS all carry the opiate overdose reversing medication Naloxone, commonly referred to by its trade name, Narcan. Naloxone is administered to treat overdose patients presenting with respiratory distress caused by the overdose, the medication enters the respiratory center of the brain stem and flushes neural synapses by out-competing the opiates present in the blood stream to to temporarily reverse respiratory inhibition; for patients whose breathing has ceased Naloxone is frequently administered along with CPR.
CAHOOTS, specifically, has not experienced a significant increase in overdose responses, largely because the increased public awareness of the opiate crisis has increased the aggressiveness of EMS and law enforcement responses to these emergencies. White Bird’s main clinic staff including the Crisis Team and Front Rooms/Reception staff have, on the other hand, reported a significant increase in interventions this year, with three incidents of Naloxone and CPR administration in the past 2 months. White Bird has begun the process of standardizing Naloxone training for all staff in addition to First Aid and CPR requirements.
Locally, the increased frequency of opiate overdoses has not been accompanied by a proportionate increase in overdose deaths. Increased public awareness has led to increased public involvement, with bystander-administered Naloxone and CPR saving brain tissue and lives prior to professional responders arriving on scene, and with increased awareness of Oregon’s Good Samaritan Law amongst drug users reducing the fear and stigma associated with calling 911 to seek assistance in an emergency.
The lives saved have demonstrated the benefits of harm reduction policies:
Public health education and outreach efforts increase awareness of the situation, increasing the likelihood of an overdose being recognized and treated.
Good Samaritan Laws provide bystanders who interact with law enforcement temporary respite from prosecution, decreasing the likelihood of an overdose patient being abandoned.
Broad availability of Naloxone—it is available over-the-counter at most pharmacies free of charge for individuals covered by private insurance or OHP and is also available free of charge along with training through HIV Alliance—increases the likelihood of the medication being available in the event of an emergency.
Bystander education including CPR training for community groups and Naloxone administration training for users, their peers, families, and those who work with them facilitates rapid overdose intervention.
Aggressive EMS and police responses to overdoses due to their increased public profile decreases the likelihood of overdose patients fleeing the scene of their resuscitation, only to cease breathing again due to lack of follow-up care.
The Eugene HIV Alliance, through their syringe exchange program, has made the injectable form of Narcan available. It also provides training to individuals and groups on how to administer it.
The syringe exchange is held five days a week at different locations, and the service is free.