EUGENE, Ore. – White Bird Clinic in Eugene has been given $100,000 for its COVID-19 prevention and response efforts.
The local clinic was one of seven organizations chosen by Kaiser Permanente Northwest to receive a portion of the $700,000 it awarded to protect vulnerable community members.
Colder temperatures, flu season and an increase in COVID-19 cases bring new challenges to organizations that serve homeless people.
White Bird will use the money to make two of its new exam rooms negative pressure rooms. This is part of a larger project to upgrade the facility and add physical capacity to safely diagnose and treat individuals with COVID-19 symptoms. Rooms that use negative pressure pull air inside, filtering it before moving it outside, helping keep airborne diseases like COVID-19 from escaping.
This will allow White Bird to provide primary care to patients that otherwise have few options aside from urgent care or emergency room treatment.
Offering care on-site will allow White Bird to better coordinate care for these individuals, strengthen partnerships with referring agencies and organizations, and help coordinate community efforts to suppress COVID-19 among people experiencing homelessness in Lane County.
Oregon has the nation’s second-highest number of unsheltered homeless people, according to information from Kaiser Permanente. While the homeless population hasn’t been as hard hit by COVID-19 as expected, colder weather raises concerns that this may change. With limited capacity and shelter options, some organizations worry about how they will address a potential increase in need while also managing the virus.
“Like the medical community, our community partners have had to dramatically shift the way they deliver services,” said Jeff Collins, president of Kaiser Permanente Northwest. “Kaiser Permanente wants to ensure they can continue with critical programs over the winter months that help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and improve the health of our communities.”
This funding will help organizations respond to local needs, enhance coordination and build capacity among continuums of care, local public health departments and homeless health care providers. Funds will be used to provide motel vouchers, ensure community clinics are safe and can treat patients, prevention and testing programs, street outreach and more.
To learn more about White Bird Clinic, visit its website.
In addition to White Bird Clinic, the following organizations were selected to receive $100,000 for COVID-19 prevention and response:
- Clackamas County Public Health, Oregon City
- Portland Street Medicine, Portland
- Washington County Department of Housing Services, Hillsboro
- Northwest Human Services, Salem
- Council for Homeless, Vancouver, WA
- Love Overwhelming, Longview, WA