Outside In building new clinic on Gresham, Portland border
Most nonprofit organizations are created with specific goals in mind: to provide affordable healthcare, to alleviate hunger and to offer educational opportunities. Outside In has a more holistic approach. Any service that they feel might offer someone a hand up and empower them, Outside In provides.
For 51 years, Outside In has provided primary health care, syringe exchange, access to basic needs, tattoo removal, case management, recreational activities, meals, LGBTQIA+ programs, housing, substance abuse treatment, behavioral health services, education and job training to the low-income, marginalized and homeless populations of Portland. And the organization recently expanded its reach into East Multnomah County with a medical van at the Rosewood Initiative.
Executive Director Patricia Patron was so inspired by the organization's approach she relocated to Portland from Arizona last year.
"I was very intrigued by the fact Outside In provides an integrated model of health and social services I hadn't seen before," she explains. "Outside In is very supportive of social justice and change. The fact that we're able to tap into so many areas important to people's health and wellness (is amazing)."
Extending their reach
Outside In staff, board members and partners broke ground on a new health clinic in Rosewood, on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at the corner of Northeast 162nd Avenue and East Burnside Street. Their current brick-and-mortar facility is located in downtown Portland at 1132 S.W. 13th Ave.
"We know that gentrification in the central city is pushing low-income families, people of color, LGBTQIA+ folks, immigrants, and vulnerable populations into communities where health care resources and social services are extremely limited. Rosewood is one of these communities," Patron says. "This community and surrounding areas have been identified as a health care provider shortage area by the Health Resources and Services Administration. Nearly 50% of the adult population have not visited a doctor in the past year and 24% have no health insurance. This is why Outside In is invested in opening a health clinic here in Rosewood. We want to be part of the Rosewood community and offer what we can to improve the community. My hope is it'll be a welcome space and people will feel 'this is my neighborhood clinic.'"
According to Patron, the Rosewood neighborhood is home to more than 14,000 mostly young people and families of varying ethnicities and backgrounds, "who are resilient, inspiring and full of potential."
"We also know that many social factors impact their success including high concentration of poverty, high crime, unsafe streets and inadequate public transit, parks and other amenities," she adds. "Our long-term vision is for Outside In to be a center for excellence in integrated care for individuals and communities who are marginalized. This is a commitment larger than access to health care, or mental health, or substance use treatment, or housing, or case management, or education, or job placement. This is a commitment to the whole person at the center of care surrounded by compassionate providers, supports, and their ability to choose what is most meaningful to self."
Outside In's former long-time director Kathy Oliver was among the honored guests at the groundbreaking and was delighted to see a project she initiated taking off.
"I'm so glad to see this moving ahead," she says. "Before I left, this was a vision of mine to have a center in East County. It could be a tremendous resource. I think there's a lot of poverty and a need for healthcare, so providing the center here in this neighborhood is so exciting."
Inspiring in the inner city
Outside In currently employs around 185 people with a wide variety of skill sets to further the nonprofit group's cause.
Emily Stadler, a fairly new outreach support specialist for Outside In, says she is now working her dream job by working with the organization.
"I attended Lincoln High School and I'd always walk by Outside In and see the community they served and thought I wanted to work with them one day," she explains. "I've always had a passion to work with underserved individuals. So, I was able to fulfill a childhood dream."
Stadler helps the medical van team in Rosewood two days a week, assisting folks with Medicaid registration and scheduling medical appointments. She is also the only bilingual team member in outreach at Rosewood, and in a community with a large Latinx population, that is very valuable.
"I think it's important to provide services to people who don't have access to transportation or means to get into downtown as readily," Stadler says of Outside In's push into East Multnomah County.
"We moved to East County because homelessness and poverty are moving out from city center," adds medical provider Meghan Brinson. "So, we're trying to follow the population we serve."
The Rosewood mobile contingent of Outside In opened in June and sees about 5-10 patients a week for medical services and 12 or so a day for Oregon Health Plan assistance.
"We hope to see more," Brinson says. "Our cap is about 30 people per week (for medical services)."
Dealing in dignity
Though many of the people employed by Outside In are professionals in their fields, including Patron who has worked in community health for several years, they never treat patients or clients like they know best.
"We don't come at a situation thinking we are experts and know what a person needs," Patron explains. "We put the person at the center of our care and services. For 51 years, Outside In's approach to care has been driven not by what's popular, but by patient needs. We've been listening to our patients and fearlessly working to create a continuum of care and an environment where everyone belongs. We strive to validate the humanity of every single person who walks through our doors. We aim to create a community where all are treated with dignity and respect."
Opportunities for growth, giving
Besides employees, Outside In works with about 300 volunteers every year, and is always accepting new people who want to help further its mission.
"We have a lot of opportunities for people to get involved," Patron says. "Because our services are so diverse, we have volunteer opportunities for pretty much anyone. There are a lot of ways people can get engaged."
For more information about how to get involved, visit outsidein.org/about-us/volunteer/.
You count on us to stay informed and we depend on you to fund our efforts. Quality local journalism takes time and money. Please support us to protect the future of community journalism.