EUGENE, Ore. — Cuts in the Lane County Health and Human Services Department may leave people at the Eugene Mission without health care.
Many of the men, women and children living at the Eugene Mission haven’t enjoyed a healthy lifestyle. After surviving life on the streets, some come into the mission suffering a wide variety of physical and mental illnesses.
“People have been in the throes of heavy diabetes or heart disease and didn’t even know it,” said Jack Tripp, Eugene Mission Executive Director.
Tripp says that changed about a year and a half ago when medics from the White Bird Clinic arrived on the scene.
“They are here a couple of times a week providing both basic medical help as well as case management and have done a phenomenal job of helping so so many of our guests. They’ve actually saved lives by being here,” Tripp said.
The program was paid for under a $47,000 contract with Lane County Health and Human Services. But earlier in August, the county informed White Bird that it wouldn’t be renewing its contract.
“No one felt like they had the budget for this,” said Chuck Gerard, White Bird Clinic Coordinator.
Gerard says eliminating the contract might save money in the short term, but will cost more in the end.
“If we’re not there to support some of this then they’re going to have to come back into the wider community and we already have an overstressed and overburdened social service system or medical system,” Gerard said.
Gerard says White Bird will continue to provide services through the end of September on its own nickel, but after that the mission is on its own.
Tripp says the news is distressing.
“I don’t want to go backwards in what we’re doing here,” said Tripp.
A spokesman for Lane County said in a statement that 2012 funding for all human service agency payments were reduced by $372,000 due to a cut in one-time funding from the previous year.