Deep mahogany wood met by green carpet and eggshell walls characterizes the early 20th century home as something vintage. Despite the classic aesthetics, the building has a modern function — trauma center and crisis call line that newly opened in August.
According to the Treatment Advocacy Center, someone with untreated mental illness is 16 times more likely to die in a police encounter. KVAL reported that homelessness in Lane County is up 32% from last year. These vulnerable groups are the focus of White Bird Clinic.
White Bird Clinic, a multi-faceted social service provider, will celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020. With that milestone, the clinic is already underway with expansion projects. Their list includes growing their primary care facilities, relocating their dentistry office and expanding their accessibility for trauma care — including opening a new facility on West 7th Avenue.
When White Bird Clinic opened in 1970, it had a mission in mind: “to respond to some of the fallout of the 1960s,'' according to their website. Its original intention to serve those feeling “disenfranchised or alienated from the mainstream system” is still alive and well, Fund Developer Chris Hecht said. “The counterculture echoes down,” he said, speaking of the environment of mainstream organization distrust. “We the people could do better for ourselves and each other.”
White Bird’s volunteer base is made up of around 400 community members, according to Crisis Office Manager Loretta McNally. Volunteers vary in age from college students to the elderly, as well as those in the allied professions like social workers. “It’s the top and bottom of the spectrum,” McNally said, “young anarchists and old hippies.”
Phoenix Guyette, a recent graduate from the Family and Human Services Program at the University of Oregon, is a volunteer coordinator. She became involved with White Bird Clinic in 2014 and has been a formal employee for four years. Guyette said White Bird Clinic provides opportunities for students to “get to know how to work in the field” by serving the community’s more vulnerable groups. “It’s a great opportunity to give back to the community,” Guyette said.
White Bird Clinic assists patients in registering for and understanding their options concerning health insurance. Oregon Health Plan, the state’s Medicaid program, helps “pay for low income Oregonians’’ healthcare,” according to its website. Trillium Community Insurance, provided under OHP, will no longer be in-network with PeaceHealth as of Jan.. 1, 2020. Trillium and PeaceHealth have both confirmed, despite PeaceHealth’s statement received by KLCC that “nothing changes today.” PeaceHealth is the region’s largest hospital network and healthcare provider, reports KLCC.
White Bird Clinic provides service to help people sign up for the Oregon Health Plan and understand their rights and options. The PeaceHealth decision “won’t impact our services,” Guyette said, as White Bird Clinic will still accept community healthcare options like Trillium.
Hecht voiced the intention of White Bird Clinic to compensate for, and offset, the effects of PeaceHealth’s decision. With that offset comes the plans to expand their reach and their capabilities. As their dental program expands to their new Pearl Street location, White Bird Clinic says they will increase care by 75%. “We won’t have to turn anyone away,” McNally said. The building that once housed both their dental and medical programs will have room to expand, she explained. “Dental moves, and medical will take both floors.”
The White Bird Clinic program CAHOOTS, or Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets, has made national headlines. Teams of two — one EMT and one trained crisis worker —
travel in a van to help intervene in cases of medical emergency or disturbance.
On Oct. 23, CBS Evening News broadcast a segment, as a part of their series “Stop the Stigma,” highlighting CAHOOTS. That story drew attention to the clinic from across the country. They’ve been receiving calls from Colorado, San Francisco, New York City and Chicago, McNally said, “all in the past week.”
White Bird Clinic, according to McNally, is executing on goodwill residing in the community. All these years later, their success is still dependent on the community’s compassion. “We wouldn’t be here 50 years later without it,” McNally said.