April 8th, Easter Sunday, 2012
Our third month as an Occupy Medical Clinic opened at a new location – Eugene Parks Block at 8th and Oak. We moved the clinic from our former location at the Federal building. The group felt that the exposure at the Federal Building Plaza was too hard on the patients and the volunteers for very different reasons.
Our patients were intimidated by the ominous presence of the surveillance cameras and constant police patrols. They complained that they felt like their privacy was compromised by the triangulation of the courthouse, city hall and the federal building offices. The fact that Homeland Security kept a steady eye on us was a little much for our patients.
Our volunteers were aware of the eyes of authority around us but the exposure to the elements is what wore us down. We do the business of medical care for our community in a pop up tent. It is intended as temporary garage. We use it as a triage unit.
February was cold. March was colder. We cleaned wounds in the snow. We reset shoulders in the hail. We held down tent poles as the wind threatened to whip our shelter into the sky like a giant box kite. The tips of our fingers turned bright pink within the first hour of our shift. We needed a change.
The Eugene Parks Block offered a number of solutions. It was sheltered by trees and other buildings from the wind and rain. It has a permanent shelter to protect our patients and the volunteers who serve free food to the community near our tent. It has easy street access with lots of parking for patients that drive in to see our docs. It has a drinking fountain. It is also unmonitored by surveillance cameras.
Occupy Medical Clinic still offers free access to our wonderful doctors and trained volunteers. We still have free haircuts. We still help fill prescriptions and offer nutritional supplements free of charge. We are just performing this service in a slightly warmer location. The tips of our fingers are much happier now.