H.O.P.E. Team - Homeless Outreach Partnership Effort
Some homeless individuals in need of help don't actively seek assistance or know where to go to find services. In these cases, it is necessary to reach out to potential patients. Outreach at the Health Care Center for the Homeless (HCCH) is provided by a team of staff outreach specialists and volunteers working where the homeless live - on the streets and in the woods. Known as the HOPE Team (Homeless Outreach Partnership Effort), their main goal is to connect clients in the camps or living on the streets of downtown with the health services that HCCH can provide for them. As many of the homeless individuals the HOPE Team encounters have an innate mistrust of people, they initially build a rapport with the clients to gain their trust. This eventually allows the Team to introduce potential clients to services available to them through our clinic, the Orange Blossom Family Health Center. Among the many services the HOPE Team provides are transportation for medical appointments; obtaining identification cards and birth certificates; referrals for treatment programs and transitional housing; and assistance in accessing mainstream benefits. In 2010, HCCH added a Registered Nurse to the HOPE Team, allowing for some medical needs to be addressed in the field. While one of our goals is to prevent the inappropriate use of the emergency room, many new HOPE Team clients have serious health issues that necessitate immediate transport to a hospital. With a Registered Nurse present, issues such as dangerously elevated blood pressure can be detected before they come to the Health Center and allows for better assessment of any immediate health care needs. In late 2011, HCCH added a Veterans Outreach Case Manager to the HOPE Team. The Team has encountered a number of military veterans living in the camps who have not been receiving services they are entitled to. The Case Manager's focus is on helping them to navigate the system and connect with benefits they are due from their time serving our country. As with all HOPE Team clients, the ultimate goal is to enable them to leave the woods or the streets to find permanent housing and return to a life of self-sufficiency.
Photos courtesy of James Florio Copyright 2011 and Alyssa Marie Aviles Copyright 2013