United Way’s support of the Street Medicine Program (a program of Reading Hospital) is crucial in helping the homeless access medical care. The Street Medicine team meets homeless individuals where they are by setting up clinics at shelters and soup kitchens. The team builds trust with their patients, which leads to better health outcomes through proper diagnosis, medication/supplies, referrals and follow up.
The medical teams provide a combination of street outreach and clinics that are open and free to everyone. Alfred*, 70, and his son, 30, receive care from the Street Medicine team at a Reading clinic site. The father and son live in a car, without heat, and are in need of medical care and food. After a series of visits, the two have placed their trust with the team. “Trust allows our staff to talk with patients, learn more about their situations and help in other areas,” explains Jody Mill, a Nurse Practitioner who works with the team. Street Medicine staff recently helped the two men connect with the Social Security office and Salvation Army to explore housing support, with the hope of soon finding alternative housing for them.
New telehealth kiosks located at Hope Rescue Mission offer the programs’ virtual clinics, which are open to all at-risk community members. Recently, a 60 year-old male patient suffering from high blood pressure shared how weekly virtual visits helped improve his medical condition, which also contributed to him feeling so much better; he describes it as “I am a different man”.
The program increase access to primary and specialty care and reduces emergency room visits by breaking barriers and providing equitable health care, no matter where a person resides.
*Name has been changed to protect the individual’s identity.