In Oregon, 591,000 people do not have health insurance. That's nearly 17 percent of the state's population.
That's why a group of Oregon Health & Science University students are sponsoring "Cover The Uninsured Week" planned for Monday, May 1, through Saturday, May 6. The week will include speakers talking about how Canada provides health care; a policy debate about how we should provide health care for all; and a safety net panel discussion about available services and a community health fair.
"More than 500,000 Oregonians are uninsured. Because of this, we believe that 'Cover the Uninsured Week' is essential in continuing to bring awareness to this issue," said Sarah Traxler, an OHSU School of Medicine student and one of the organizers of the event.
"By providing information and a forum for discussion with experts and local representatives, our hope is to give health care providers and the public an opportunity to think critically about solutions to this crisis."
The problem of the uninsured is growing worse. The federal government estimates that nearly 46 million Americans lack coverage of any kind for an entire year. Other research shows that tens of millions more Americans go without health coverage for shorter periods of time.
The schedule of events includes:
• Noon to 1 p.m. Monday, May 1, in the OHSU Auditorium (Old Library): Keynote speaker Patricia A. Rodney, R.N., M.S.N., Ph.D., University of British Columbia School of Nursing, associate professor, will present "Towards Social Justice In Health Care Delivery: A Canadian Perspective." It will be followed from 2 to 3:30 p.m. by an informal discussion about the Canadian health care system.
• Noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, May 3, OHSU School of Nursing auditorium, Room 144: policy debate about "Health Care for All: Is the Time Now? If So, How?" by state Sen. and gubernatorial candidate Ben Westlund and Oregon Medical Association secretary/treasurer Peter Bernardo, M.D. The moderator is Wendy Radmacher-Willis, City Club executive director.
• Noon to 1 p.m. Thursday, May 4, OHSU Auditorium (Old Library): Safety Net Clinic panel membersMultnomah County Health Department, Central City Concern, Southwest Community Health Clinic, Outside In and others will discuss their services. There will be exhibits in the Great Hall from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. offering information about free community services.
• Noon to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 6, Portsmouth Middle School, 5103 N. Willis Blvd.: A Community Health Fair will offer free blood pressure, blood sugar, lead, vision and body mass index screenings; education services on diabetes, nutrition, dental hygiene, women's health, exercise, hypertension, insurance and bike safety; and social workers will provide health resource information.
For more information about Cover the Uninsured Week, visit, http://covertheuninsured.org/factsheets/.
For more information about getting health insurance, visit, http://covertheuninsured.org/stateguides/english/OR.pdf.
Also, for more information about underserved issues, visit, www.ohsuedu/underserved.