A tip of the hat to COPES Crisis Center and Health Clinic in Pendleton, and other organizations that are working to fight drug and alcohol addiction.

Addiction is a plague on our society. It kills people, breaks apart families, increases crime, destroys mental health and exacerbates problems like homelessness. We aren’t doing enough to make sure everyone who wants help is able to access it.

The new COPES clinic, featured in the Nov. 19 East Oregonian, has a crisis unit that can handle up to three people at once. It approaches fighting addiction holistically, with counseling and primary care in one location.

We’re happy to see such a resource come to Umatilla County, and hope to see an expansion of such efforts in the future.

A tip of the hat to all our health care workers, as well. Despite some tokens of appreciation this spring, on the whole this country has badly mistreated nurses, doctors and other health care providers this year.

Across the country, we’ve heard tales from hospital employees who were sent in to face a contagious disease without proper protective gear and had to live in fear they might accidentally bring the virus home to their families. They’ve described the most grueling year of their career, as they worked past the point of exhaustion while patients dying of COVID-19 inside the hospital and community members outside the hospital have called them liars.

Our hospitals haven’t been overwhelmed here the same way they have been in big cities and in hard-hit states like South Dakota, but employees here have still had faced difficult challenges in treating a disease with many unknowns, while many members of our community have publicly attacked their integrity. Dozens of them have gotten sick themselves in the process.

Thank you to all of you working to provide medical care to our communities.

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