June 12, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

City urged to focus on loss of health care services

3 min read
Rudy Preston: "We're on the verge of a serious crisis here, and...this needs to be on a lot of agendas really fast."

After the loss of the University District hospital, a new health care crisis in Eugene. The Oregonian first reported March 27: Thousands of Lane County patients no longer have primary care physicians.

[00:00:16] Councilor Greg Evans (City Council meeting April 8): My comment is to call attention to what we have right now—not a pending crisis, but we are in a crisis in terms of health care in our community. And we are losing health care providers—doctors, physician assistants, we’re losing support personnel—and it is affecting a whole lot of people in our community, across our community, whether you’re living in the city of Eugene, Springfield, or anywhere in Lane County.

[00:00:49] I’m not going to get into the details. I know that the city attorney would slap my hands or my wrist on this, but I’m calling attention to something that a whole lot of people in this community are going through right now, and that’s the loss of health care services and the fact that the people who are behind that loss of health care services are more interested in making money than they are serving the patients that they’re supposed to be serving in this community.

[00:01:20] I hope there’s something that we can do about that, maybe not as a council, but I think that we need to do that with our jurisdictional partners at the state and county.

[00:01:31] John Q: During the short legislative session, House Bill 4130 sought to address the conflict between patient-centered medical care and the profit motive. Lane County residents and medical professionals supported the bill, and though it didn’t make it to the governor’s desk in 2024, sponsors vowed to try again.

[00:01:49] After Councilor Evans spoke, he was supported during public comment. On April 8:

[00:01:56] Rudy Preston (Public comment April 8): My name is Rudy Preston. First off, I would like to say that Council Member Evans’s discussion about health care, we’re on the verge now of a serious crisis here, and if this isn’t being taken up by you all, and probably much more so at Lane County level, but you need to be doing everything you can to keep this from getting seriously out of control, because it is very bad. Very bad. So I didn’t come here to talk about that. But now that he mentioned it, like this needs to be on like a lot of agendas really fast, or it will become something much worse than some of the other issues that you’re already facing.

[00:02:32] John Q: A growing crisis in health care: First Eugene loses its only hospital, and now thousands of patients are being told: ‘We’re sorry, but your doctors have left, and we don’t have anyone to take their place.’

Update (April 15): We reached out to Rep. Nancy Nathanson to see if she had been able to obtain any updated figures on the number of medical personnel departing from the Oregon Medical Group.

She responded: “We have yet to receive reliable data on the number of patients affected or a clear picture on the proportion of OMG’s doctors who have left. One thing is clear: people who live in Eugene, Springfield, and Lane County more broadly are at risk of losing access to their doctor and I am increasingly alarmed. The situation in Eugene appears to be developing into a crisis in access to primary health care and I am working to actively understand the community impact.

“I was part of a solution this year to cut ambulance delays in the wake of a hospital closing in the region, and I supported legislation that would keep healthcare corporations focused on patient care over profits in Oregon. As this situation continues to unfold, I am squarely focused on ensuring that access to healthcare – being able to see someone in a timely fashion – isn’t reduced, and that costs for receiving care are not increased.”

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