Occupy Medical in the News

This week, the Eugene Register-Guard published an article featuring OM’s temporary Cottage Grove Clinic. The grin on Sue’s face reflects the excitement we all feel at pioneering another clinic to help our neighbors just south of us. We are grateful to both the Register-Guard for helping us spread the news. http://www.registerguard.com/rg/news/local/30315793-75/medical-clinic-health-occupy-care.html.csp

Occupy Medical also enjoyed marching in the Eugene Celebration Parade Saturday, August 24, 2013. The Register-Guard covered this event as well. Look for the photo of our favorite cowgirl driving the famous white and red mobile clinic through downtown Eugene. http://www.registerguard.com/rg/news/local/30360181-75/eugene-parade-celebration-winner-street.html.csp#slideshow

Remembering to Be Human – Guest Blog

acupunctureOn May 12 2013, we had a special Mother’s Day guest. One of our nurses, Barbara, asked if her daughter, a licensed acupuncturist, could offer her services at the clinic for the day. Knowing how many patients are crippled by pain that a professional with this skill set could alleviate, we said YES! The post below is a description of her experience at Occupy Medical. For more on Erin or to read more of her insightful blog posts, go to Radiant Heart Acupuncture.

Remembering How To Be Human*
by Erin Telford, L.Ac

I had a glorious, profound experience this past weekend. I flew to Oregon to surprise my amazing mama for Mother’s Day. Since my visit was unexpected, she was already on schedule to volunteer at Occupy Medical in the center of downtown Eugene. We decided that I would come with her and volunteer my acupuncture services.

This is a fantastic setup to provide free medical care and a myriad of services to the under-served population in Eugene. They have doctors, nurses, fresh food, an herbalist, and even a person to cut your hair! It was a gorgeous warm day and I had a nice little line-up of people to treat.

I have never worked with under-served populations. Under-served by my definition are people who don’t get enough. They don’t get enough food, they don’t get enough medical treatment, they don’t get enough comfort, warmth, nurturing, empathy or love.

My second patient of the day was a prostitute who was afraid to be homeless on the street because of her background. She told me a lot of stories, most of which left me slightly stunned and sad. I usually feel like I have some things to say when I’m working with patients. Some pretty reasonable, helpful, relatable things to say.

I like to have a golden nugget here and there that someone can take away and feel uplifted by. It might be ego-y but I feel good making other people feel good. So when this fellow human says to me, I sell myself for money when I’m depressed, I’m stumped.

I felt kind of like a jerk. I don’t have a pretty bow to put on this one. I can’t say, “Yeah, we’ve all been there” and have a laugh because we haven’t. I had nothing. Nothing. I started and stopped. Silence. Awkward? A teeny bit. But then we just looked at each other.

Okay, I thought. Let’s just be here. Because THIS is what is happening right now. This is her reality. I didn’t need to make it better or make it different. My reality and her reality were crossing over and we were just being humans together. So we just sat for a minute or two looking into each other’s eyes. I’m saying I hear you, I understand you, that sucks and I love you in my mind. I hope she felt that. I think she did.

I treated a young woman who was kicking a speed addiction and was grieving losing her children on Mother’s Day. I treated a woman with a painful bunion who was craving more connection with her family of origin. I treated a very sweet man who wanted to propose to me with a ring made of a pine cone and string. All were in heavy transition with very loose foundations, all were very anxious, all really, really needed to tell their stories.

The Dalai Lama had just been in Eugene the day before and everyone was quoting him. It was a bit surreal. The major theme of his talk seemed to be around compassion, nurturing and the responsibility and power of the feminine. We were putting these teachings into direct action on this day.

My mother is a registered nurse so she was camped out on the bus checking vital signs and taking care of wounds. I’m in my own little section of an outdoor tent with just a few battered folding chairs and a metal table that we pulled off her deck and covered with a pretty cloth to use for a workspace. There was no glamor. No flannel sheets, no table warmer, no aromatherapy, no music.

It was still perfect and functional. When you strip away all the bells and whistles, there is just the work. You just give everything you have to give. Nothing else is necessary.

Mother Theresa said that the problem of the world was that we have forgotten that we belong to each other. We are humans. We are all doing this together. It makes no difference if I live in a 2 million dollar apartment on Park Avenue or I sleep on cement steps with my dog to protect me.

We will all take hits in this life. You will never know by looking at someone what kind of trauma they have had to endure. It does not matter. We all deserve to give and receive each other’s kindness and utter humanity.

It’s easy to see other humans as annoying, frustrating obstacles. They are in your way. They aren’t giving you what you want. They are frustrating, shady, slow, entitled, etc.

It’s a choice to remember that we are all made of the same stuff. We all need warmth and touch and sweetness. Be in it together-even with “strangers.”

Connect and serve.

*Used by permission by the author

Benjamin Shares His Day at OM Clinic

I was giving a haircut today to a young man from Oklahoma. He told me that he had never seen anything like our clinic in all the cities he has visited. He wished more cities would offer the nonjudgmental care that we at Occupy Medical provide. He commented that he felt that all the volunteers truly cared about him and for all the other homeless folks.

Volunteers work Together to Set Up the Medical Tents Every Sunday Morning

Volunteers work Together to Set Up the Medical Tents Every Sunday Morning

We volunteers at Occupy Medical seldom have the time during clinic to stop and take in what is truly happening. I personally gave 11 haircuts in four hours today…And that doesn’t count detangling Leather Jacket Dude’s long curly locks. So what I’m trying to say is, I seldom have the time to notice the magic that is happening around me….I feel it but do not always witness it.

Today I witnessed a part of what truly makes me proud to be with this company. Jason came into our intake tent and said that the man with him needed immediate help. He sat him down in Donna’s intake chair and Donna immediately began her process. Jason said to the man, “Are you thirsty,” but did not wait for a reply and ran to get him water. Then Nurse Donna appeared and surveyed the situation. She asked him if he had eaten today and then ran, I mean literally ran to the hospitality tent to get him a sandwich. Within no time the man was fast tracked into the bus. I quietly said to the young man in the chair. What you just witnessed is what makes this team so very special. No one is paid or forced to be here, pure love is the glue that holds this place together.

This is only one incident. I do not always see what happens outside the tent or witness the quality, loving care that is given on the bus. But at the end of the day I see The faces, very tired faces, but faces that glow from knowing that we have truly made a difference today. As my friend and fellow volunteer Carla mentioned after I told her what I witnessed, “This is what villages and small towns used to do, they took care of one Another…We are recreating Community.”

The Clinic Gets a Little Sunshine

Last Sunday, March 24th, Joe and Patti popped by to drop off more donations and take a few pictures of Occupy Medical in action. We were enjoying one of the first sunny, warm days that OM has seen for several months.

Sue sports both the classic Occupy bandana and our new staff shirts. We gone Hawaiian!

Sue sports both the classic Occupy bandana and our new staff shirts. We gone Hawaiian!

The herbalists confer about our newest donations.

The herbalists confer about our newest donations.

OM recycles tincture bottles for the cause!

OM recycles tincture bottles for the cause!

Keeping a weather eye on the clinic. Thanks Martin!

Keeping a weather eye on the clinic. Thanks Martin!

There is always something going on at Occupy Medical.

There is always something going on at Occupy Medical.

Big smiles in the sunshine from Patti and Brooke.

Big smiles in the sunshine from Patti and Brooke.