April 21, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

Southeast residents join union members at rally to save Eugene’s hospital

6 min read
Linda Duggan and Lucy Bambrey attended a Sept. 11 rally to save the only hospital on their side of the Willamette River.

Two Southeast Neighbors attend a rally to save Eugene’s only hospital. Linda Duggan was shown in KLCC’s coverage, holding a sign behind the mayor.

Joining Linda in the University District on Sept. 11, Lucy Bambrey:

Lucy Bambrey: The news that the hospital will be closing was kind of devastating, especially the Emergency Room. That would triple the time for a lot of people who are in dire medical emergencies—like a kid who’s not breathing, someone’s who’s having a heart attack—and for them to have to travel all the way to RiverBend from, let’s say, out toward Veneta, would be disastrous.

[00:00:38] Even where my daughter and I live, if you catch all the lights and you’re speeding and you have an emergency, it’s only like a seven-minute drive to get to the University District facility. You have to triple that and almost quadruple it to get over to RiverBend, depending on the traffic and depending on how dire your emergency is.

[00:01:00] That might be too late for some emergencies: choking child, heart attack, even people who have severe asthma attacks. That’s not a convenient length to go to get emergency services in this size of a community.

[00:01:17] Linda Duggan: My first reaction was outrage and being upset. In addition to all the things Lucy mentioned, there is going to be an earthquake. We’re overdue. Those two bridges that we have go out, we have no hospital on this side of the river. Absolutely zero care on this side of the river.

[00:01:38] But I also had some inner knowledge from a friend that this has been orchestrated and planned, which Mayor (Lucy) Vinis agreed with me about, she knew about too. So I was surprised. It was upsetting, but I also have thought that something was up for months. And so that part wasn’t surprising.

[00:02:02] I think probably the two most important departments: the ACE, the Acute Care for the Elderly unit, ACE is important, especially for those of us who are baby boomers and are going to need places to go.

[00:02:20] But the Emergency (Room) here at University District, I’ve taken my son there and me, I’ve gone there, I’ve taken friends there, it’s a much shorter wait. It’s about a third of the wait that there is out at RiverBend. So, it’s going to put even more at RiverBend. One time when I took a friend not too long ago, it was a 12- to 14-hour wait at RiverBend for emergency. Now if you’re right there having a heart attack, you would get priority, but it’s a very long wait there.

[00:02:51] And I think we waited four hours at University District the last time I took somebody there. Yeah, so the Emergency is really important, but also the Behavioral Health is important too. They’re going to open up a few beds at RiverBend. It’s just it’s totally different than having a whole department.

[00:03:09] What I see is greed. They’re supposed to be a nonprofit. I’ve been on four nonprofit boards. That’s not the basic motto of a nonprofit.

[00:03:20] John Q: Neighborhood board member and concerned Eugenian, Lucy Bambrey.

[00:03:24] Lucy Bambrey: Over and over again by a number of speakers, if there was any theme that came through, it was greed. Corporate greed.

[00:03:30] We are the second-largest city (as I understand it) in the state. One of the things impressed upon me: 30,000 people in the U of O community, not just students, but faculty, staff, 30,000 people would be affected. They would not have the ability to even walk a couple blocks, or take—don’t want to take three buses to get over to PeaceHealth in Springfield. I mean, that’s a lot of people for this size of a community.

[00:04:04] Linda Duggan: And being the second-largest city, as Lucy mentioned, 171,000 or whatever we are now people, having no hospital and having both hospitals on the other side of the river in Springfield certainly doesn’t seem equitable. And Lucy’s right. If you’re in Veneta there’s nothing else. We’re at least closer, the University District, to those people who are west, but there’s nothing else.

[00:04:33] Lucy Bambrey: I think we need to call on Oregon Health Authority. And I think both city and county folks will support the idea of at least keeping emergency and mental health services open. This affects all of Lane County, not just us.

[00:04:52] The most astounding thing to me was the number of people, the passion that the nurses union speakers talked about, and the other health care workers, the ER workers, the passion that they have for patient care and how they felt just devastated that PeaceHealth as their employer was kind of turning their back on the patients that these people see. The mental health unit, the ER, very impassioned, from the staff and students, and just all the university people who depend on the emergency services there.

[00:05:29] Linda Duggan: CAHOOTS, I thought, had an excellent speaker and she pointed out that not only do they get a larger portion of their clients from this side of the river, but that it would be so much longer for them to be able to take people to RiverBend from Eugene, the length of time that it would take them.

And I was most impressed when they interviewed (on KEZI) some University District students who not only said that they don’t have cars and they don’t have access if it’s taken away, but also the people, the unhoused people living on the street.

[00:06:12] And so I was glad to hear young people thinking of that and that is a fact, and that was part of what CAHOOTS brought up too. If you need to take a bus, if you’re even able to do that, I looked it up and it’s three buses. It’s an hour and a half to get from Eugene (depending on where you live in Eugene) to get to RiverBend. So an hour and a half commute on the bus, okay. Which is kind of crazy.

[00:06:42] I went because I had the opportunity of being available, but also I think it’s really important, you know. Since high school, I’ve spent my whole life demonstrating and showing support or against different issues. And I think that’s not only our right as American citizens, but I believe in a democracy it’s our duty.

[00:07:06] And so I will offer some ideas of hope, ’cause I’ve always got to try to look for some positive and hope, because otherwise it’s too depressing. But OHSU was interested in working with U of O to have a teaching facility hospital, you know, they were going to try to have a teaching facility at University District and even to the level of physicians. Not just a nurses training program, but also up to physicians. And to me, that would be great. I would welcome a teaching facility that would perhaps have Emergency Room and Behavioral Health and some beds.

[00:07:50] And Option C would be to have another hospital come in and give PeaceHealth some more competition, and they’re all going corporate, huge, huge corporations. I just see it being greed and not really caring about the community. And if we have another option (unless I absolutely would have to) I would vote to not go to PeaceHealth for anything, because I’m pretty done with them.

[00:08:18] But they do have state of the art on certain departments, heart surgeries and other things. They’re kind of the leader in the area, so they have a market on it. But the fact that it would take you a long time to get there and you’d probably die on the way, I just think more people need to be outraged.

[00:08:36] I would really like to see a big campaign writing in, and like Lucy says, maybe some more rallies and demonstrations showing how upset people are.

[00:08:48] To me, what made it worse is that it’s been orchestrated and planned for a long time, and they purposely set things up to lose money at University District Hospital. I don’t know, seems like that should be illegal. That’s just my opinion, but I just, I think to calculate things like that is even worse.

[00:09:10] John Q: Two Southeast Neighbors attend the Sept. 11 rally at the University District hospital and encourage city residents to sign the petition at SaveEugenesHospital.com.

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