SPRINGFIELD, Ore. -- A growing homeless population and incidents of trespassing and animal theft are causing neighbors near RiverBend to fear for their safety.
Pam Basilius lives next door to the hospital and said last week that homeless campers broke into her property and stole 10 chickens, along with tools and tarps. She said she later found the tarps with her name on them across the street in the lot PeaceHealth owns.
"At night when I go to check on my animals, I have wasp spray in one hand and a knife in another because I don't feel safe anymore,” said Basilius.
Other residents in the neighborhood said vagrants are setting up camps along the McKenzie River behind the hospital. A nurse who works at PeaceHealth said many employees no longer feel safe walking around the property because of the trespassers and the needles they leave behind.
In a statement, PeaceHealth said they care deeply about the safety of the communities they serve and said they do patrol the area regularly. They said they also added no camping signs around the property.
John Stevens frequently visits family who live across the street from the hospital and said he feels like PeaceHealth is addressing the problem.
“They don't own the river, and they've done extremely well posting their ground for no trespassing, camping, whatever. You can't control the river bank,” Stevens said.