Consider Joining Local AARP Chapter 5624

By Richard Hunter

Northeast Portland residents may not know anything about the AARP local chapter 5624, and for those who know we exist, you might know much about us. 

We are the only Local Chapter of AARP in the State of Oregon made up of 158 African Americans, age ranging from 50 to 90 years old. Our membership is still growing.  We hope to double or triple our membership size by this time next year. 

Since the COVID19 shut down began in March this year, we have been unable to meet for our monthly luncheon sessions, so we created a newsletter as a way to stay in touch with our members and keep them informed.  We remain active through our executive board and small committee projects until we are able to all come together again.  Some of us are actively involved with our AARP State Office of Volunteers.  In the midst of a pandemic, nationwide protesting, fires, and bad air quality, we are a part of the most vulnerable in our community, but we remain healthy, encourage the wearing of masks, washing of hands, and social distancing.  We are resilient and our executive board is safely active.   

Keep us in your prayers and check out the newsletter here.

For more information contact Richard Hunter, Sr., Executive Board Member, 503-964-9137.

Incontinence Supplies for Low Income: Where and How To Get Products

By Harris Schacter

If you’re a part of a low income family that needs incontinence supplies, then there’s good news for you: You could get incontinence supplies at little to no cost.

There are many programs and organizations that provide incontinence supplies for low income individuals and families. The tricky part is finding them. We’ve put together a list of the best ones to make it a little bit easier for you to get the supplies you need. 

Medicaid Coverage of Incontinence Supplies for Low Income Individuals and Families

Here’s something awesome about Medicaid: most programs cover incontinence supplies for low income individuals and families. There are currently 45 states whose Medicaid programs offer some form of coverage.

Medicaid offers two major advantages for getting incontinence supplies for low income individuals and families:

  1. Reliability:
    Eligible Medicaid recipients can get a 30-day supply of incontinence products delivered to their door each month.
  2. Cost:
    In many cases, the cost of these deliveries is covered completely by the Medicaid plan.

Getting Supplies with Medicaid Benefits

To use Medicaid for incontinence supplies, you have to meet two basic requirements:

  1. You must be enrolled in a Medicaid program that provides coverage of incontinence supplies.
  2. You must visit a doctor and get a diagnosis for incontinence. Medicaid will only cover incontinence supplies if a doctor considers them medically necessary for your treatment.

You can learn more about getting supplies through Medicaid in our Medicaid Coverage of Incontinence Supplies Guide (https://www.hcd.com/incontinence/medicaid-incontinence-supplies/), including your state’s specific coverage options and requirements. You can also sign up for incontinence supply deliveries securely online at any time.  

Diaper Banks

Diaper banks are charitable organizations that provide diapers and incontinence supplies for low income individuals and families in their community. In most cases, these supplies are distributed by the organization for free.

Each organization has its own policies for what kind of products they provide and how they are given out. Some diaper banks only provide diapers for young children, while others may also provide products for adults. Many organizations only hand out supplies at designated times, and some require a request for supplies before pickup.

Eligibility Requirements

Eligibility requirements are also different for each diaper bank. In some cases, the diaper bank mayrequire evidence of low-income status in order to get supplies. This may include the following:

  • Enrollment in Medicaid
  • Food Stamps
  • Letter of Assistance from the State
  • Prescription showing a need of supplies

Before you visit a diaper bank, you should call to find out if they offer the type you need, and what their eligibility requirements are. Keep in mind that most diaper banks operate through donations, and may not always have a regular supply of incontinence products when you visit.

You can search for a diaper bank in your area at the National Diaper Bank Network’s online directory (https://nationaldiaperbanknetwork.org/home-covid19/). If you can’t find a bank in your area, try your local food banks, which sometimes also provide incontinence supplies.

Family Caregiver Grants

Another way for low income families and individuals to get incontinence supplies is through family caregiver grants. Family caregiver grants are designed exclusively for caregivers who need assistance in caring for aging family members. This includes getting incontinence supplies.

Family Caregiver Grant Eligibility

Eligibility for participation is outlined by each state’s Department of Health and Human Resources, and could include the following requirements:

  • Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals 60 years of age and older.
  • Adult family members or other informal caregivers age 18 and older providing care to individuals of any age with Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders
  • Older relatives (not parents) age 55 and older providing care to children under the age of 18; and
  • Older relatives, including parents, age 55 and older providing care to adults ages 18-59 with disabilities.

A good place to learn more about caregiver grant services is through the National Association of Area Agencies on Aging (www.n4a.org). Here, you can search for participating aging agencies in your area and find resources for caregivers. You can also contact your local Department of Health and Human Resources to find out what grant options are available.

Other Resources

Incontinence supplies for low income individuals and families are not always easy to find, but they are out there. If none of the previous options are available, there still may be a solution for you. Here are some resources that may be able to help you find incontinence products in your area.  

Administration for Community Living (ACL)
The ACL is a government-funded organization dedicated to providing support for aging and disabled people. They provide a wide range of services that includes assistance grants, connecting people needed services, and support networking for aging and disabled populations.

2-1-1
2-1-1 is a service that helps connect people in need to services and organizations that can help them. Their website offers an online search, and you can also call to speak with their trained professionals who will help locate a service that potentially can help you get incontinence supplies.

The Simon Foundation for Continence
The Simon Foundation for Continence keeps a directory of diaper banks that supply adult incontinence products. They also provide educational resources and support about incontinence and how to manage it.

The Salvation Army
The Salvation Army partners with many diaper and food banks to help provide incontinence supplies to those in need.  In some areas, they also provide referral services that can help connect people who need incontinence supplies to the organizations that can provide them.

The Road to a New Road, Interstate 5 Updates

By Ruth Eddy

The Oregon Department Of Transportation’s (ODOT)  plans to expand I-5 in our neighborhood are not moving at highway speeds. The reshaping of an asphalt landscape is slow. The big machinery that digs the dirt is quiet, the bureaucratic gears of planning and design are fully in motion, with three significant meetings occurring in the last few months.

First, the Oregon Transportation Committee (OTC) met on April 2nd to make a decision that had been delayed since December at Governor Brown’s request. At the end of the three-hour meeting, which was held on Zoom and live-streamed for the public on YouTube, the five-member board voted unanimously to move forward into a design phase on the I-5 Rose Quarter Project without completing an Environmental Impact Statement

In response to the forward motion set by the OTC, the project’s Executive Steering Committee (ESC) had its first Zoom meeting on May 22nd to set a framework by which to make future decisions about the project.  The 16 members of the ESC were led by facilitator Dr. Steven Holt. Half of nearly two-hour-long meeting was dedicated to introductions. Dr. Holt asked each of the members to answer the question, “What does restorative justice mean to you?”  The answers varied in detail but addressed similar themes. Marlon Holmes answered succinctly, “Calling on a community to address ills or wrongs committed against that community, and with the perpetrators addressing how those ills and wrongs have affected the community.” 

A week later, on May 28th, the Community Advisory Committee (CAC) held its second meeting, also on Zoom. According to Megan Chanel, the Rose Quarter Project manager, the project design was approximately 15% completed and CAC would advise all further work. “Think of it as we’ve brought the sandbox, but we need your help in burying some sand helping us build the sandcastle,” Chanel said.

Christopher John O’Connor, one of 24 members on the committee, believed the metaphor to be overly optimistic and offered his own saying, “The house has been built, we know how many bathrooms there’s going to be, we know what the general layout is, we’re going to be discussing… what color to paint it.”

Another member of the committee, Liz Fouther-Branch, expressed frustration with the obtuse language used to describe components of the project. Fouther-Branch said, “We need to be able to go back to our communities and speak to them in plain English about what the benefits are, what the impacts are. Breaking down the transportation language into community language so that you can build that trust in community.”

The CAC will meet again on Tuesday, June 23, 5:30-7:30. The next ESC meeting has not yet been scheduled, but all meetings are open to the public and archived on ODOT’s Youtube page.

We Can’t Stand By While Highways Are Widened

How I-5 was planned and built through Eliot in the 1950s and why we should not widen it

At a recent meeting, my Co-chair, Jimmy Wilson, asked me a pertinent question: “Where were white folks standing when Interstate-5 (I-5) was run through North Portland in the 1950’s?”  I decided to dig through archives to find out, visiting the Oregon Department of Transportation (ODOT) website and then spending a significant amount of time on the Oregonian’s historical archive (found through Multnomah County Library). I also tried to find some other local news sources like the Northwest Clarion but unless I go find someone with an extensive microfilm archive and dig through it manually I don’t think I would find anything.

Eastbank Freeway Construction through the Broadway-Weidler Interchange in 1962. Photo courtesy Portland City Archives

In Northeast Portland, the intersection of Urban Renewal policies and Freeway Construction Policies combined to remove the heart of the Black community’s housing stock (over 800 units from the Eliot area alone) between 1955 and 1970. The Eliot and Lower Albina neighborhoods were decimated to make room for I-5, but even larger pieces were removed to make Memorial Coliseum and its parking lots. Later, Emanuel Hospital’s expansion dreams and the I-405 off-ramps removed even more of the community’s buildings and dislocated its people.

I was struck by the sheer pace of highway planning and construction during the late 1950’s through the Portland region. Planning or construction of all of the highways we now know within 5 miles of Eliot happened within 5 years. The roadway engineers had a seemingly limitless budget during those days, and they had tremendous power to reshape the city as well. They knew that highways became clogged with cars a few years after they were constructed through a process we now call “induced demand.” The highway engineers knew that I-84 (“the Banfield Freeway”) would soon become congested and had plans for a “Fremont Expressway” taking an east-west route through Northeast Portland and another “Mount Hood Freeway” taking an east-west route through Southeast Portland. Those routes will never be built, and from what I can tell, many of the existing highways should not have either. Uprisings over the removal of so many housing units prevented the later highways from being built, but not before Eliot and North Portland received the scar of I-5. These routes have served to increase the geographic footprint of our region and helped make everything more quickly accessible by car.  In doing so, these highways have also increased the dependence on the car for transportation throughout our region, increased the average distance of trips and increased the basic cost of living of citizens of the Portland Metropolitan Region.

The Interstate System was funded through the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1956 which authorized $25 Billion for the construction of 41,000 miles of the Interstate Highway system over a supposedly 10-year period. In the act, a Highway Trust Fund was created that paid for 90% of highway construction costs. This meant that state highway engineers could dream up huge plans and only needed a 10% match from local governments to build highways. This amazing subsidy may have helped highway builders of the time become desensitized to the value of the buildings they were destroying in the name of “progress.”

I found that there were other options considered for the “Minnesota Freeway” that we now know as I-5 from I-405 to the Washington border.  However, the main other option was the “Delaware Freeway,” a route more along N Greeley and N Delaware Avenues, one which would have removed slightly more houses and been slightly more expensive to construct. This option would still have taken the same path through the Eliot Neighborhood. The opposition to the Minnesota option was disorganized and didn’t coalesce around one specific alternative, which contributed to it being ignored. There was a bridge built at N. Ainsworth across the highway to mollify the principal of Ockley Green School, which would have had its district separated by the highway had that bridge not been built. To this day N. Ainsworth is one of the calmest places to cross I-5 in north Portland.

After this research, I thought to myself, okay, what about the section of highway that actually runs through Eliot?  It turns out that this was a bit challenging to find out about because it was actually considered a part of the “East Bank Freeway” even though this stretch between I-84 and N. Russell Street was not along the river.  This route may have been chosen by planners at the City of Portland signing off on plans prepared by the Oregon Department of Transportation. From the news of the day, it appears that the people living and working on the east side of the river were not substantially consulted in the process, even though hundreds of families would be displaced for the highway project. The first mention of this highway running through Eliot in The Oregonian was from January 1959, and in February and March there were some articles talking about the number of buildings to be torn down. At one point they were referred to as “Ancient Buildings.” By December, the right of way had been cleared. This is unbelievable to me:  Less than 6 months from the first timely public mention of the highway going through this area to the mayor approving the demolition, and 12 months from the first mention of the highway to complete demolition. A cursory note of the design of the Broadway, Williams, Weidler, Flint and Vancouver overpasses was made, as was a note that 29 other streets would be “terminated” or turned into dead ends.

During the demolition process, salvagers would pay prices as low as $5 for the right to salvage parts out of houses that would be demolished for the East Bank Freeway Route. One hundred and eighty households with 400 people were displaced by one count; another count I read included 250 households. Is it possible that those with the power to demolish buildings might not have been particularly concerned with those they were displacing?  To me, this is obviously the case. One article I read talked about the shocking record of non-litigation by homeowners on the route. Either property owners thought they were getting a fair deal by the Oregon Department of Transportation, or they had no leverage in the courts to make it worth the legal troubles.

With the power of hindsight, we do not have to repeat the mistakes of the past. ODOT is planning to widen I-5 underneath the 5-bridge intersection we now have around Broadway, Weidler, Vancouver, Williams and Flint Avenues. During the 1960s, there were a series of highway revolts across the country, resulting in the National Environmental Policy Act of 1959 governing roadway construction. As a result of this, the current proposal by ODOT to widen I-5 around the Broadway/Weidler Interchange, rebuild all of the roads that cross the highway, and provide some minor and questionably valuable “ community benefits” has been in the planning and engineering process for the past 10 years. During the time since the planning process started, the process of “approving” this project has been orchestrated in a way that no elected body has had a simple vote on whether they wanted to build this project or not. There have been several votes about what type of environmental review process to do, about whether we want to pass a huge transportation funding bill including this project, and about whether to approve buying land for the right of way of the project. However, no politicians have ever been asked to vote on whether to actually build this project.

The project is not particularly popular. Roughly 90% of the public comments about the project have been in opposition to building it, including the Eliot Neighborhood Association’s comments at every step of the way. The effects of highway construction are generally worst for those that live and spend their lives closest to the freeway. The local residents are subjected to detours, construction noise and pollution during the construction process. In addition, after project completion, the increased traffic on local streets and the highway will make quality of life for those living around the project worse. That increased traffic is all but guaranteed while widening highways. There is a nearly 1-to-1 relationship between the number of highway lane miles and traffic, whatever name you give to the lanes that you are building. If we look closer at what “local benefits” the project would have, we can see that just tweaking the street grid above the highway will have minor impacts at best. A new pedestrian crossing between Winning Way and NE Clackamas street was intended to be an asset, but highway planners have put such a curve in it that it will not shorten any journeys with its meandering path above a noisy highway. The Hancock-Dixon overpass will not substantially connect streets that are not served with the current Flint overpass we have now. Even the new “public spaces” created by the project will be small and triangular, possibly the site of camping since no accommodation for productive buildings on them is being made.

The only real change the project would make to the surrounding area would be widening the highway, a car-capacity increase that will barely change travel times through the area. It would also serve to put more cars into our local street network, which has led to renderings showing even wider streets through the area than we have now. This would increase road noise and reduce the value of land around the project area. Although trumpeted as a “traffic and safety project” it serves neither. Safety on other ODOT-managed streets is a much higher priority than in this corridor, which has not seen any deaths in a decade. Only congestion pricing has proved to improve traffic in urban environments, and we should be pursuing that sort of system instead of putting down more concrete.

Before this project started, drawings of how to reconstruct I-5 in a wider configuration with “minimal” impacts to traffic above were generated. This project has always been about a wider I-5 through the Broadway interchange, and everything else is just window dressing. It is not too late. Any benefits this project might have could be achieved at a much lower cost through other means.  We can still stop this $800 million boondoggle, which is clearly a continuation of the shameful history of highway construction in Portland’s inner neighborhoods. It is not too late.

A-dec and Legacy Health Announce Joint-Effot to Fight COVID-19

By Jordan Bean Blossom and Kristin Whitney

Rachel Boggs, NTICU nurse at legacy Emanuel medical Center and Bryan Goodin, Manager of Employee health at Legacy. Photo courtesy Legacy Health

A-dec and Legacy Health today announced an agreement for A-dec to manufacture and provide much needed supply of personal protection equipment (PPE) for Legacy hospitals and health care facilities.

“For more than 55 years, A-dec has lived by the principle of prioritizing concern for people above all else.” said Scott Parrish, A-dec President and CEO. “As a family-owned, Newberg manufacturer, A-dec is proud to partner with Legacy Health to bring much-needed PPE to Oregon’s health care workers. This is what we should be doing during this unprecedented time: working together to solve problems and take care of communities.”

A-dec has been working to develop PPE that are in critical demand by health care workers who continue to prepare to meet demand during the COVID-19 pandemic. Legacy has a significant need for headband face shields and plastic shield coverings for their Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR) helmets worn during procedures that provide protection against airborne illnesses.

The safety and well-being of our patients, their families and our staff is Legacy’s top priority. We continue, along with other area hospitals, to pursue aggressive measures to secure PPE and are increasing our PPE stores, including partnering with local companies such as A-dec to replenish critically needed supplies,” said Lewis Low, M.D., senior vice president and chief medical officer for Legacy Health. “We are incredibly fortunate to have exceptional local manufacturers, like A-dec, aggressively pivoting business operations and innovating to help us support the health needs of our community during this pandemic.”

Face shields made by A-dec for Legacy health. Photo courtesy A-dec.

A-dec is a family-owned, privately held dental equipment manufacturing company with headquarters in Newberg, Oregon. In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the company launched programs and infection control resources to support healthcare professionals practicing dentistry during the crisis.  The collaboration started when a Legacy Health nurse and an A-dec employee began discussing hospitals’ needs for PPE and A-dec’s manufacturing expertise. Following that conversation, A-dec employees worked around the clock over a weekend to develop prototypes of needed supplies. Over the course of just over a week, the company has converted several of their manufacturing areas to produce PPE for other health and emergency responder systems in the local area.

In their ongoing response to the COVID-19 health crisis, Legacy Health has a critical need for other personal protective equipment, as well as monetary contributions for a COVID-19 Response Fund. For information on how you can help, visit www.legacyhealthgiving.org/covid-19

A-dec reports considerable challenges with obtaining the quantities of raw materials needed to manufacture these products. The company is actively looking for partners in both the public and private sector to support their efforts during this global emergency.

About Legacy Health
Legacy Health is a locally owned, nonprofit health system driven by our mission to improve the health of those around us. We offer a unique blend of health services – from wellness and urgent care to dedicated children’s care and advanced medical centers – to care for patients of all ages when and where they need us across the Portland/Vancouver metro area and mid-Willamette Valley. With an eye toward a healthier community, our partnerships tackle vital issues such as housing and mental health. Legacy strives to help everyone live healthier and better lives, with the vision of being essential to the health of the region. For more information, visit www.legacyhealth.org.

About A-dec, Inc.
A-dec is one of the largest privately-owned dental equipment manufacturers in the United States. We are recognized as a global leader in the dental space and are committed to our mission of providing a quality environment where people work together for the betterment of dentistry worldwide. A-dec has over 1,300 employees globally, with manufacturing facilities in Newberg, Oregon, Fenton, Missouri, and HangZhou, China. A-dec markets its manufactured dental products, including dental chairs, delivery systems, dental lights, dental furniture, and mechanical room air compressors, vacuums, and water control valves. For more information, visit www.a-dec.com.

Consider Donating Money to Knott Street Boxing Club

By Ruben Bansie

Knott Street Boxing Club is part of the Matt Dishman community center in N.E. Portland. It’s been around for a long time. Inside you can see trophies and newspaper clippings that go back to the 50’s. It was once a top boxing club in the nation, and produced championship level fighters. Back in the day there could be 70-90 kids at the gym everyday. It has remained a solid community club in a neighborhood that has gone through a lot of changes. 
Boxing gyms are often recognized for helping to keep kids out of trouble by giving them a place to go and teaching them the value of discipline and hard work. 

Knott Street plays another important role in the community: it brings people from different backgrounds together. Portland has become more expensive, and as a result, less diverse and more divided. At Knott Street, people from all different backgrounds- race, income, age- come together. It’s one of Portland’s few melting pots. You go to Knott Street and spend time with people you might not otherwise know. These kinds of institutions are fundamental in teaching kids to understand prejudice. And inside a boxing gym, the only way you can feel superior to someone else is by working harder than them.  None of this would be possible without Stanley Dunn, who acts as the coach and mentor to the boys and girls who train at Knott Street. When I boxed there, I was struck by Stanley’s commitment to the club. He puts his whole heart into it, almost every day. He’s been doing it for over 16 years.

Stanley and the kids at Knott Street Boxing

At Knott Street, Stanley teaches the sweet science to anyone who wants to learn. He teaches the kids how to be humble when they win, and how to deal with loss. He inspires them to be fit and take responsibility for their health. He helps them rise to their full competence. He even picks them up if they have no way to get to the gym.  

Stanley does all this for no pay. He doesn’t ask for pay. He is truly dedicated to serving the community by always being there for the kids. When Covid hit and training indoors became a risk, he trained the kids at Dawson park. Often a scene of drug addiction and crime, he turned it into a positive environment. The whole neighborhood, the police and ambulances, clapped their hands and honked their horns in support as they passed by. 

Photos courtesy Knott Street Boxing Facebook page

Knott Street Boxing Club subsists on donations. It needs new equipment and more resources to keep its members involved. It needs funds to be able to put on exhibitions and travel to tournaments; the cheapest way to do this is to purchase a van to transport the boxing ring for set-up at exhibitions and for the team to travel to tournaments. And it needs the financial ability to help the kids who can’t afford the $20 monthly youth memberships.
The dream is to restore competitive greatness to the Knott Street Boxing Club by enabling it to compete. This gives the kids something to work towards. The minimum necessity is to keep the gym going, and provide the necessary equipment for it’s members to train.

There is a lot of awareness being raised right now about race and inequality in America. Donating to a charity or cause to help bring change to these issues is a good thing. I encourage you to research how your donations are being used, and better understand how you are helping. One of the best ways to help is by investing directly in your community. Small places like Knott Street make a big impact on the community. Knott Street is a throwback- there aren’t too many places like it around anymore. Let’s help keep it going and make it accessible to anyone who needs it, regardless of their income. 

The easiest way to donate is through the facebook page. Go to: www.facebook.com/knottstboxingclub and click on the “Donate” tab. 

Any questions, email Knott Street directly at knottstboxing@yahoo.com

 

40 is Plenty?

Residents on Eliot’s eastern edge have noticed the City recently installed “traffic calming devices (speed bumps)” on NE Seventh.  This is a result of the Transportation Commissioner’s rejection of the designation of NE Seventh as a Neighborhood Greenway in favor of NE 9th, despite the fact that route is blocked by Irvington Park, where bike riding on park paths is prohibited, and the direct connection of 7th to the new bike bridge over I-84 by Lloyd Center.  For those new to the area, Eliot has demanded traffic calming measures along Seventh for over 40 years due to the dangers presented to children accessing Irvington School, Tubman School and park, and Dishman Center.  At that time (the 1980s), Eliot was home to a many minority families and lower income residents.  Instead, the City put a higher priority on traffic calming measures on Irvington streets (15th and Knott) to benefit a predominately upper-class neighborhood.  Much of the traffic on Seventh in Eliot is from Irvington.  Nevertheless, I am glad the City has concluded that 40 years is long enough to delay desperately needed safety improvements for Eliot’s children, parents, and increasing number of seniors.  So far, the bumps are doing little to slow SUVs, pickups, and landscape companies, but sedan drivers are taking notice and will hopefully slow the rest (although I still see people passing “too slow” drivers!).  And, a word of caution, speeding between bumps and then breaking is the worst thing you can do for your car, so just slow to 20, or switch to MLK where speed limits are higher.

Sign Up for a FREE Backpack and School Supplies TODAY!

If your child is in need of school supplies this school year, we invite you to sign up for a FREE backpack filled with grade-specific school supplies (based on the Portland Public Schools recommended supply lists). You can sign up for each kindergarten through grade 12 student in your household, while supplies last.

Backpack distribution is from August 26 – 28, but you need to sign up so that we can reserve a backpack for your student. To sign up, please read and complete the following steps:

  • REGISTER: Select a ticket for the date and time you prefer for pickup, and please select one ticket per student. REGISTER >>
  • COMPLETE SURVEY: Once you’ve registered, fill out the following survey for each student. This will help us make sure your student gets what they need. TAKE THE SURVEY >>

We will be reaching out with more detailed instructions for pickup, including COVID-19 health and safety protocol to ensure staff, clients, and community members are protected.

Thank you for being part of our whole community! If you have questions, reach out to communications@cascadiabhc.org

Livability Committee and Adopt-a-Block Update

By Jody Guth

While the corona virus has kept the majority of us homebound – other than  for essential services – I’ve found that the streets have reflected this slowdown of activity. Less activity does equate to less trash but several adopt-a-blockers I’ve spoken to have been equally less motivated, myself included. Less people on the streets to collect garbage equates to certain areas not receiving “the love” a thorough trash pick-up will provide. 

Almost as an answer to that reality, I noticed a lone soul picking up trash along MLK Jr. Blvd the other day on my way to the store.  Pulling over to the curb and rolling down my window I asked the good Samaritan if he lived in Eliot, did he wish to join the Eliot Adopt-a-block program, and what was his name!  Fortunately he answered “yes” to the first two questions, and I happily added Michael Schwern as the newest member of our team. 

Michael lives on the corner of Rodney and Tillamook. He’s been living there for three years and lived for another number of years not far from his current home. He told me he was motivated to help pick up based on his affiliation with Burning Man and their ethos of “leave no trace”. He felt compelled to do so along MLK as a way to give back as he supports the peaceful protests and vigils that make their way through Eliot. I thought it a wonderful way of supporting our neighborhood and the surrounding streets. Michael would like to adopt Sacramento Ave between Rodney and MLK plus other areas of need during his daily walks. Thanks, Michael, and welcome.  

In addition to Michael, I met another Eliot neighbor, Julie Cushing, who was picking up garbage along Rodney Ave. Julie also felt compelled to give back and make a difference.  She said she hated seeing trash in the streets and wanted to do her part. When I asked Julie if she wanted to join the adopt-a-blockers as well, she was happy to join and becomes the latest member of our little group. Julie lives on the corner of Rodney and Thompson, and has been in the neighborhood for 20 years. She would like to help out on Tillamook from Rodney to MLK, parts of Russell, and Williams. Wow…thanks, Julie! 

Both she and Michael will be entered into the drawing coming up in a few days for those in the Adopt-a-Block family. They and/or you could be the lucky recipient of the $100.00 gift certificate to your local New Season grocery store, who we randomly pick each quarter. My trusty pal, Adrian, will draw the name from a current list of 28 trash-eliminators, and I’ll notify the winner. The odds are pretty sweet.

I encourage anyone with a desire to lend a hand to email me at jodyguth@gmail.com to join. (If you prefer phone its 503-331-1511 which is a LAND line, so no texts). I’ll get you stocked up with gloves, garbage-picker-uppers, and bags for trash.  The trash can be left for pickup by the city on the corner or address of your choice. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll get you set up with numbers, and everything you need to help keep Eliot lookin’ good. 

Letter from the Neighborhood Association Co-Chairs

By Allan Rudwick and Jimmy Wilson

Being co-Chairs of the Eliot Neighborhood Association (ENA) has not been what we expected this year. We started out the year wanting to work on vacant land, diesel pollution and wanting to see the city pushed on houselessness. This year has seen the City put up people in the Convention Center for months. It has seen a dramatic reduction in pollution due to the pandemic. And it has seen neighborhood meetings move to the internet. One last thing we wanted to do was to keep space for neighbors to local residents to get help with their issues.

Along the way, the Eliot Neighborhood has been dragged into multiple other issues that we didn’t foresee. Interstate 5 widening near the Broadway Interchange seems to be moving ahead despite a high volume of comments in opposition to the project. The ENA has been vocally opposed to the project from the beginning and we may be getting our toes wet again. We have been contacted regarding rezoning land in the name of providing more affordable housing. We also have been approached by neighbors about crime around Dawson Park and the surrounding blocks. This issue is attracting neighbors to reach out to each other and rally around a common cause. 

We are still here, we are still supporting people in Eliot even though we are not always doing it in person. Thank you for continuing to be neighborly through these challenging times. It is not easy but we will get through this. Together

Letter from LUTC Chair

This is a hard time to write a Land Use and Transportation update. Between the effects of the COVID-19 crisis, the police murder of George Floyd, and the Portland police’s escalating tactics against protesters, it is hard to see anything but police reform and supporting our most vulnerable neighbors as the top priorities.

If you have the means, some ways to support the local Black community are to eat at Black owned restaurants (https://iloveblackfood.com/pdx-directory/) or support Black owned businesses (https://mercatuspdx.com/directory/black-owned-businesses). The Black Resilience Fund is accepting donations and giving funds directly to Black Portlanders in need (https://www.gofundme.com/f/the-black-resilience-fund).

Local non-profits that help our most vulnerable neighbors, like the Blanchet House (https://blanchethouse.org), are still accepting volunteers amid the COVID-19 crisis to help with meal service and preparation if you have available time and are not part of a high risk group in regard to COVID-19.

Please take care of each other and stay safe.

Within and Beyond the Borders of Eliot: Essential Workers – Part 2 of 2

This column features businesses or people in Eliot and just beyond our neighborhood’s borders. This issue we focus on essential workers who have been on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to thank them for their commitment, service, selflessness, and putting their health and lives on the line to bring us the essential services the rest of us need to survive day to day. Sue Stringer and Monique Gaskins contributed to this column. NOTE: All interviews were conduced prior to the protests and the opening up of Multnomah County to Phase 1. Therefore, some situations, restrictions and details are now different than stated in the articles. Read with this in mind.

Kate Johnson, Grocery Worker

We all need groceries. Then a pandemic and lockdown strike. What does grocery shopping look like and how we are going to stay safe? Grocery workers are on the front lines and have greater risk since they are in contact with countless people who may or may not be contagious. However, throughout this pandemic grocery stores have all pivoted to offer us the food we need while trying to keep us and their workers healthy and safe.

Kate Johnson is a cashier at New Seasons. She works at the Grant Park location but her experience is similar to other grocery workers. In March when we closed down, Kate took almost two months off since she had a young child at home. Thankfully, New Seasons let her keep her benefits so her family was protected. If an employee had a health issue like asthma or was immunocompromised they could take off and still get paid and keep benefits for almost two months because the company understood the danger to those employees. At the end of April, employees had to choose to either go back to work or quit.

At that point, all the details of safety were worked out. Some of the changes were the logistics with one-way aisles, customers and employees wearing masks, providing hand sanitizer, wiping carts down after each use, installing sneeze guards at checkout stations, and using a disinfecting spray and wipes to sanitize check out station after every customer. Customers are waiting in line far from the cashiers and aisles. Extra employees were hired just to manage the lines of customers and also to sanitize the belts at each checkout stand after each customer. “It is very exhausting, cleaning continuously. The (New Seasons) friendliness factor doesn’t really work anymore because it is hard to hear with masks and the seriousness of the time,” Kate admits.

“To be fair, being a local company is in our favor.  The only other place there are stores is in California. Both those states are really on board with social distancing. Kroger has stores nationwide so it is harder to manage the message with all the different states and levels of strictness to enforce social distancing,” says Kate. Some additional benefits to retain employees and keep them safe are hazard pay plus lunch and dinner served free from the deli.

“Something that I really liked about New Seasons was that it acted as the idea of the ‘third place’.  Most people have work, home and then they have this third place where they have community. New Seasons was really that way especially for people without homes. They would come in and respectfully spend all day in the dining room – turn in cans, buy some lunch and sit there all day. And I think that goes like that for a lot of people, especially seniors. They would come in and get their cup of coffee, meet with their friends. We had game nights on Thursday, story time on Monday morning, we had classes, a mom’s group. That’s all gone.  It is really weird not to see these individuals every time I worked and I’m really worried about them.  I don’t know where they are, I don’t know if they’re ok.”

If there’s a silver lining in all of this Kate says it is that this is a reset. Customers like the new distancing and cleanliness and would like them to stay in place. We can rethink how we shop for our groceries and how we keep each other healthy and safe and maybe think about our grocery workers and how much they do to make that happen.

Leah Bandstra, High School Teacher

The first year as a high school teacher is not easy. Lesson plans, gaining respect from your students, offering a safe environment to learn, and preparing your students for the next school year and life are only some of the challenges a new teacher faces. Now add a pandemic and stay at home order to the list of those challenges and you have an overwhelming task.

Leah Bandstra, an Eliot resident, is a new teacher and she is just one of the thousands of teachers trying to adapt to a new way of teaching. Most have never taught online before and or used the software needed to accomplish this. Try putting this together in just a couple of weeks as well as trying to get students lunches and interim paper homework packets and you can see how difficult the logistics are for school districts.

Leah works as a high school chemistry teacher at Century High School in Hillsboro. Teaching 10th graders science is hard in a normal environment. “I was just hitting my stride with the students in February and then the rug was pulled out from underneath me,” says Leah, “and it’s a shame we couldn’t fill out the year and see how they changed by the end of the year.”

Leah got her bachelor’s degree in chemistry and mastered in chemical oceanography so the subject matter comes easy to her. Having taught preschool, had kids of her own, and now teaching high school students, she can see the whole developmental process as to where kids start and where they need to end up to be successful not just in chemistry, but in life.

The new normal of teaching from a computer without a whiteboard or seeing your students and being able to physically do lab experiments are the hardest parts. With new family dynamics with multiple kids needing computer time, students getting jobs to help pay the rent because of parents being laid off, and just motivating students, attending time-specific online sessions were impossible. The result is each teacher recording lectures and creating online lessons for students to complete in their own time. Special Ed and English language learners are having a tough time and have extra challenges logistically.

“Most figured out that if they were passing then they weren’t going to be held accountable for the rest of the lessons for the year. Those that weren’t passing, the teachers have to do more work to get those kids across the finish line for their school year. There’s no reason for (the students) to do it and once they figured out that grades didn’t matter they were kind about it but, ‘we’re not going to do this for no reason that we can see’. I don’t have any recourse,” Leah laments.

The important take away is schools are such a central part of the community. Take schools away and that’s the central part of kids’ lives – to see their friends, have another human adult look them in the face, and see if they are okay. “School is necessary for the structure and regularity of routine. We are grownups and have coping mechanisms, time management, how to shower and take care of myself. A 15-year-old does not know how to do that.  Pandemic and now the protests require perspective and coping mechanisms. Most kids don’t have access to that kind of coping mechanism. School is a place that provides structures, holds boundaries for them, lets them know what’s acceptable, when we eat, go to the bathroom,” says Leah, “we need to help them with that.”

So, even if education was not what we expected this spring, Leah wants to emphasize, “It’s going to be ok if they need a couple of days to veg out. I promise you as a teacher of older children that the trauma that they will have from this (pandemic) will be lessened if you pay attention to their mental health rather than force-feed school.”

Within and Beyond the Borders of Eliot: Essential Workers – Part 1 of 2

This column features businesses or people in Eliot and just beyond our neighborhood’s borders. This issue we focus on essential workers who have been on the front lines during the COVID-19 pandemic. We want to thank them for their commitment, service, selflessness, and putting their health and lives on the line to bring us the essential services the rest of us need to survive day to day. Sue Stringer and Monique Gaskins contributed to this column. NOTE: All interviews were conduced prior to the protests and the opening up of Multnomah County to Phase 1. Therefore, some situations, restrictions and details are now different than stated in the articles. Read with this in mind.

Dr. Qian Liya Leng, Physician

By Monique Gaskins

During the month of April, National Public Radio estimated that 1.4 Million health care workers lost their jobs. Although we’ve heard about joblessness concerns, the impact on healthcare workers isn’t as widely discussed. Ironically, these frontline workers, many of whom are seen as key to combating the pandemic as they continue to go to work, are also feeling anxiety about the possibility of passing on a dangerous illness to their families and job security. These layoffs have impacted people across healthcare, from hospital cleaners to physicians.

Qian Liya Leng has practiced medicine in Portland for 10 years. She is currently at Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in the Eliot neighborhood. As a Hospital Medicine Doctor, Dr. Leng’s patients include anyone who is admitted to the hospital; she does everything but performing surgeries and delivering babies. Lately, this also includes treating patients with COVID-19.

Dr. Leng thinks about ensuring she doesn’t expose her elderly mother to COVID-19. In response to safety concerns, the medical center closed employee entrances, requires temperature checks and a health survey, and has updated their PPE protocol. There are silver linings to fewer hospital admittees; before the pandemic, Dr. Leng juggled a high patient volume. Now, with fewer patients, Dr. Leng is able to connect more with the people in her care. She continues to look for further ways to serve her community. 

Qian has taught Yoga for 13 years. After her own pregnancy, she started to specialize in movement for pregnant and recently pregnant women. Amidst all of the concerns about physical proximity, she is starting an online movement and yoga studio focused on prenatal and postnatal women. Dr. Leng wants to provide resources and expert advice for women in this phase of their lives without requiring physical proximity. Her studio will be available at Bump.health in mid-June.

During the pandemic, Qian encourages Eliot residents to do two things: 1) Wear a mask when outside of the house to cut down on the spread of the disease. 2) Devote some time to their mental health by getting some fresh air. After all, very few instances of COVID-19 have been traced to outdoor transmission.

Terra Dudley, RN

By Sue Stringer

At Legacy Emanuel Medical Center all departments have been touched by COVID-19. The newly created COVID unit is staffed with nurses volunteering to work in that unit as well as those that are “floated” from departments that have an excess of nurses. Terra Dudley is one nurse who has spent a number of shifts in the COVID unit. After graduating from Duke University’s registered nursing program, she started with Legacy Emanuel Medical Center in February 2019 and she is really glad that she had some “normal” nursing experience before the pandemic hit.

Terra normally works in the Medical/Surgical department. Terra has only had to work on the COVID wing for a few shifts so far. Work there is challenging because of the intensity of patient’s symptoms and the level of detail that needs to be exercised with personal protective equipment (PPE).

Nurses are only assigned one to two patients so you can really focus on those patients. It takes so much time to work with patients because of the PPE. “It is not getting the PPE on, it is getting off that takes so much time. An additional nurse must watch as you take off your protective equipment to make sure you are removing it properly so you are not exposed to the virus. You have stand next to the door and take off your gown pulling it forward and into a trash can so it doesn’t touch anything. Take your gloves off inside out a very specific way. Hand sanitize. Put on fresh gloves before leaving. There’s a very specific order and that’s what’s breaking down in those medical staff that are getting sick. If you don’t take the time and do it properly then you get exposed,” says Terra.

At first, before the rapid testing kits were available it took 3 days to get test results back. Not every patient was being tested unless they were showing symptoms. Patients on the Med/Surg unit after a couple of days post-surgery would start showing fever and cough which made for paranoia amongst the staff. However, it is very common for those surgical patients to develop those symptoms post-surgery because of lying in bed and easily developing pneumonia from not moving around enough. Since many of the patients were treated before all the PPE was in place it is lucky that no one in the surgical unit developed COVID.

Now the patient population in Med/Surg has changed. They are post-COVID patients. Most patients started in ICU COVID unit then transferred to Med/Surg after they were taken off the ventilator which was sometimes 30 days after they were first admitted. By that point their bodies are so decompensated from being on life support and ventilators for that long that they are very weak and have a lot of recovery and rehab to do to get back to somewhat normal. One bright spot is the discharge parade the medical staff give when the patients finally get to leave the hospital.

Terra said that at first when the virus hit it was really scary. She felt weird being with people and there was this uncontrollable element and couldn’t call in sick or skip a shift. She is also one of the people who the N95 mask does not fit so she had to wear this electronic filtration machine which looks like a hazmat suit. It was definitely scary because a few nurses got COVID and she felt so vulnerable even with all the PPE.

The silver lining in all of this, that seems to be a resounding theme, is that it is nice to reset to evaluate what activities in your life are important and which ones you are willing to keep or forego.

Terra says, “There is a universal “time out” in surgery to recheck what you’re doing to make sure everything is going correctly and now this is happening with our lives. This is really nice but would be nice if there were not so many consequences.”

Some unexpected highlights were the nightly 7:00 pm pots and pans banging to honor the essential healthcare workers, Nurses Appreciation week where different neighbors with signs would stand outside Emanuel and also the fly over by fighter jets.

Terra says it is hard to do your job every day with all the new complications but the city’s residents appreciating the medical staff’s hard work really makes a big difference and easier to put your life on the line.

Douglas Matthews, Police Officer

By Sue Stringer

We think of most essential workers as being part of a business that supplies us a specific item like food or perhaps keeping us healthy like medical workers or pharmacists. However, keeping our streets safe and enforcing traffic laws falls to the police officers.  They are on the front lines having to work with the public in sometimes not so physically distanced situations.

Doug Matthews is a police officer at the North Precinct who works patrol in North and Northeast Portland. He has been a Portland police officer for over 26 years. As Officer Matthews describes, “I answer emergency calls for service. I’m the guy who wears the blue uniform and drives a marked police car.”

The challenges have changed throughout his career. “In my mind, the biggest challenge to our community is the homeless, mentally ill, and drug affected. Our society hasn’t quite figured out how to effectively deal with these demographics.”

Despite what you read on the internet, the citizens of Portland value their police officers. Matthews says, “The overwhelming majority of people I come into contact with thank me for what I do. I get a lot of satisfaction out of assisting citizens in all things whenever I can. And…I still like putting criminals in jail if they commit a serious crime.”

The job of a police officer has changed in a lot of ways, according to Matthews, from the traditional law enforcement oriented police officer to a social justice warrior. In the end, our primary role will always be to protect people when they can and assist in holding people who break the law accountable for their actions.

Now because of COVID-19, the police bureau is handling most of the calls by phone and the officers decide if an in-person response is needed. People may not like that, but it’s necessary to reduce everyone’s exposure. When it comes to serious emergency calls, the police will respond immediately.

One thing that is different during COVID times, is that traffic has been much better since the pandemic started, however, the police have seen a substantial uptick in drivers driving at excessive speeds.

One bright spot is as of today, there haven’t been any confirmed cases of COVID-19 at the Portland Police Bureau. Matthews admits, “I have always been a good hand-washer, but I’m a bit OCD about it now due to the pandemic.” Also, most citizens are adhering to the Governor’s restrictions related to the pandemic. The Police Bureau isn’t enforcing the Governor’s restrictions, instead, the Police Bureau has chosen to educate the public over enforcing.

Office Matthews would like to thank Portland residents for your continued support. “Citizen involvement is crucial to solving crimes in the community. You would be surprised how often a person breaks a cold case for the police or points us in the right direction to solve a serious crime.”

Origin of Gentrification in Eliot

Board Co-Chair Wilson’s heartfelt article in the last issue encouraged me to provide more perspective on his, and our neighborhood’s, experience with gentrification.  Docks, railyards, and industries in Lower Eliot (now Lower Albina) provided jobs and Upper Albina (now Eliot’s residential area) provided housing for successions of groups seeking either, or both, refuge and a better life.  The last wave was former, mostly black, shipyard workers fleeing the Vanport flood, many of whom were welcomed into the homes of former co-workers living in N/NE Portland.  The lack of jobs and redlining stranded many of these in crowded, dilapidated homes.  These conditions were a good fit for City leaders to looking for ways to stimulate economic development through “urban renewal.”  The resulting renewal efforts and their impacts are well known; the Rose Quarter, PPS’s Blanchard Building, and Emanuel Hospital expansion.  What is less recognized is the role Portland’s comprehensive planning and zoning practices played in facilitating gentrification. 

State land use practice is controlled by Senate Bill 100 adopted in 1973 that was designed to slow urban sprawl.  SB 100 required each county to develop, implement, and maintain plans and associated zoning that accommodates expected economic and population growth within an urban growth boundary (UGB).  Industrial and residential development outside the UGB is severely limited.  The expectation then, and now, is that future growth within the UGB will require increased density; smaller lots, multi-family buildings, and in-fill development. 

Throughout the 1970s and 80s, Portland’s housing was predominately single-family, owner-occupied (roughly 65%) with the balance rental homes and apartments.  The situation in Eliot was exactly the opposite; 65% rental and 35% resident-owned but in mostly single-family homes.  Our population was equally distinct being one of the City’s most diverse and poorest.  Although counties adopted land use plans based on long-range projections of population and economic growth, there was little of either during Oregon’s recession of the 1980s.  The metro region’s population projection at the end of the recession was for an additional 1 million residents by 2040, of which Portland agreed to house at least half.  To do so, it needed to change land use plans and zoning to squeeze those people into existing neighborhoods.  Neighborhoods with a majority of homeowners naturally opposed any density increases in their neighborhoods.  Consequently, City staff looked for poor, less well connected and organized neighborhoods to dump that density.  Eliot loomed large as a target. 

Controversy over the plan to dump density in inner N/NE neighborhoods forced the City to couch this change in the Albina Community Plan, adopted in 1993.  The Plan paid lip service to the preservation of existing historic and affordable housing stock: however, the Housing Goal was to add 3,000 housing units by “increasing density … and increasing infill,” which it did by rezoning single-family lots for multifamily development.  The Plan suggested new units would be constructed on vacant and under-developed lots; however, many of those lots were (and still are) vacant because of pollution and ownership questions making it impractical to repurpose them.  Rezoning a home for potential multifamily use makes it more difficult to get a mortgage to purchase or rehabilitate a single-family home.  As a result, the Albina Plan laid the foundation for gentrification through the conversion of older, but affordable, single-family homes to multifamily developments including townhomes and apartments, and a few McMansions. 

The Plan also included an infill overlay to facilitate “granny flats,” which enabled two dwelling units on one, single-family home site.  This encouraged the further loss of single-family homes and an increase in rental apartments.  The Albina Plan was superseded by the new NE Quadrant Plan within the new Comprehensive Plan in 2016.  Active engagement by the Eliot Neighborhood Land Use Committee resulted in zoning changes that concentrate increased density along Broadway, MLK, and Williams/Vancouver along with changes to residential zoning.  This was intended to reduce pressure to demolish Eliot’s remaining, older homes.  Unfortunately, after the plan was adopted the City changed the definitions of the new residential zones increasing pressure to convert lots with single-family lots into multifamily developments.  In these days of heightened awareness of racial bias in institutional decisions, it is easy to conclude the zoning changes in Eliot were at least tainted by racism.  That is difficult to conclude because the changes hide behind “policies” rather than individual decisions.  Nevertheless, it is obvious white and wealthy neighborhoods avoided density dumping.  Regardless, the City continues to assign blame for gentrification to the developers it enabled rather than acknowledging its role in that process.  At a minimum, this reflects the City’s racial tone-deafness.  One recent example of this is its “right to return” program that encouraged black residents to return to city-supported housing in Eliot.  As several black leaders pointed out, this reinforces the public perception that Portland’s black population “belongs” in inner N/NE rather than in other, whiter neighborhoods.  Another example is the proposal to put “lids” over the expanded I-5 freeway to “reconnect” the neighborhood.  This ignores both the history of that area and its geography.  I-5 in Eliot wasn’t carved out of a former residential area, it is below a bluff that is part of the Willamette River flood plain.  In fact, as designed, the lid in Eliot will be primarily an overpass that is designed to connect truck traffic between Lower Albina and our residential areas via Hancock.  In other words, it is a benefit for the trucking industry (as is the widening project itself) not the Eliot neighborhood or its residents, past or present.  Hopefully, a new Council and the new racial awareness will finally result in policies that do not continue policies harming our community, starting with stopping the I-5 freeway expansion and, ideally, attacking vehicle pollution from the freeway and the rail and trucking industries in Lower Albina.

Testing for COVID in the Neighborhood

By Sam Wilson

Drive up Covid-19 testing by Dr. Kat onsit at Oasis of Change. Photo credit Sam Wilson

Matt Thrasher woke up one morning in early June feeling ill. He suspected food poisoning and called his boss at a bathroom surface refinishing company, where he works as a technician. The company relayed the message to Thrasher’s customer for the day, for whom he was tasked with detailing a tub and shower he had begun the day prior. Out of an abundance of caution, the clients asked that he get tested for COVID-19 before doing the work. His boss agreed, which is how he wound up parallel parked in his company truck on the 2000 block of North Williams Avenue, swirling a non-cotton swab around each of his nostrils.

Thrasher had been referred to Dr. Kat Lopez Sankey, 37, who runs a private member practice office in the basement of Oasis of Change, a community center on North Williams Avenue. Lopez began offering drive-up COVID-19 tests in early April, soon after the FDA began allowing the less invasive nasal swabs for sample collection, and still when the flatness of our curves was yet to be known. She anticipated a large demand for people looking for answers and planned on hiring employees to assist with the rush. She ordered a sign to be printed offering the service for $150, a price she settled on after weighing the many unknown factors. But the rush never came. 

Sankey began her private practice a year ago, distraught by the “insurance-industrial complex” after five years in an integrative medicine clinic. Her clients now pay $100 a month for “unlimited access” via office visits, emails, phone calls, or texts. The membership fee is out of pocket, although some insurance companies refund the cost. Her clients visit from around the Portland area, ranging from families to the elderly, but all have come by way of word of mouth. “My type of medicine doesn’t actually work very well in an insurance model,” she notes. “It’s not lucrative to spend a long thoughtful time with people with multiple follow-up calls and being accessible to them all the time. None of that is reimbursed by insurance.” 

When the coronavirus began keeping people indoors, Lopez saw less of her patients but also heard from them less as well. “I initially thought that because of the pandemic, there would be more sick people and I would be useful,” she said. “But instead, society just kind of shut down.”

It was surprising, too, that more people were not trying to get tested. Since she started offering them, Lopez has administered 13 drive-in tests to the public, all of which have been negative, and believes mixed messages have discouraged more people from getting tests. “I think there was a misunderstanding of how many swabs and tubes existed, and there was a mindset of conservation for those who were important and it was hard to know how inundated we would be,” she said. “An asymptomatic person with no exposures who’s not a healthcare worker still can’t get tested. Anywhere. Except for me or if their doctor wants to do it.” Lopez also acknowledged a Walgreens in Hillsboro began testing asymptomatic people with no exposures in late May.

As labs have become more streamlined with COVID-19 testing, Lopez has smoothed her process as well. She has settled on using LabCorp to process the tests she administers. They charge $52 per test, usually picking up the swabs within a half-hour of the sample being collected, and their results come in a few days at most. As such, Lopez has been steadily lowering her price, although the sign she had ordered at the beginning of April had only recently arrived.

As she sat in the sunny garden adjacent to Oasis of Change in early June, Lopez reflected that she should be doing the test for free, with insurance. Without insurance, the LabCorp fee would still need to be covered by the person getting tested. She had, after all, an abundance of swabs and sterile tubes, just waiting for samples. “It’s very rewarding. People are really emotional about it,” Lopez said of the peace of mind she sees when someone does a test. 

For Matt Thrasher, it was a simple process he was more than glad to do. “Look, we’re going through a pandemic. I feel like more people should get this done,” he said. Three days after Thrasher handed his swab to Lopez from his truck window, he got an email with his results. Negative.

To schedule a test with Dr. Kat Lopez Sankey, visit covidtestpdx.com.

Dr. Kat Lopez Sankey who offers Covid-19 testing at Oasis of Change. Photo credit Sam Wilson