For Immediate Release
July 15, 2015
A Medical Home for People Experiencing Homelessness
Santa Rosa Community Health Centers Awarded $150,000 to Expand Health Care Safety Net
NEW YORK, NY—Located in an area with a large and growing homeless population, Santa Rosa Community Health Centers (SRCHC) established a health center to address the specific medical and social needs of people who lack a stable residence. Now SRCHC is the recipient of a $150,000 grant from the RCHN Community Health Foundation to create a patient-centered medical home model for the most vulnerable chronically ill homeless.
Sonoma County California is home to some of America’s most beautiful landscapes and best-known wines, but the high cost of living, large number of travelers, and a variety of other factors have led to an increase in the number of people experiencing homelessness in the county. A recent census count estimated nearly 10,000 homeless persons in the area, many of whom are both chronically homeless and suffering from an array of medical conditions.
“When a homeless person is discharged from the hospital, it is highly likely they will return without a stable place to recuperate,” said SRCHC’s Director of Clinical Support Services Barbara Scherrer, RN, BSN. “We work to address not just their medical needs, but also basic living needs such as housing, food, showers, and transportation so that patients can get back on their feet literally and figuratively.”
According to a recent Sonoma County survey of people experiencing homelessness, 67% reported having at least one medical condition, 35% were being treated for substance abuse, and 21% said they were receiving treatment for mental health issues. “A large majority of people who are homeless grapple with a chronic illness and many of them have been victims of trauma, so we need to be able to help them deal with a wide range of issues,” said Scherrer.
Working with partners including Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital, St. Joseph Health System, the Drug Abuse Alternatives Center, and the Sonoma County Department of Health Services, SRCHC’s Homeless Care Coordination Program has integrated medical services, social services, mental health services and substance abuse services in one place.
One particularly challenging part of the SRCHC Homeless Care Coordination Program is securing palliative or end-of-life care for homeless patients who have cancer or end-stage liver disease. “Patients often find it difficult to maintain their treatment regimens when they go home; now imagine trying to maintain a complicated treatment regimen when you have no home,” said Scherrer.
“A critical part of improving our nation’s health is to more effectively reach and care for those who face cultural or systemic barriers that limit their access to care and ability to lead healthier lives,” said Feygele Jacobs, president and CEO of the RCHN Community Health Foundation (RCHN CHF). “Our foundation is pleased to support innovative projects to improve the health of vulnerable populations and share lessons learned on how to deliver health care that works better for our communities.”
SRCHC is one of six grantees in five states that will receive $150,000 each to develop and launch a population health focused program. Other projects include initiatives to improve pediatric care management and reduce child and teen ER visits by Hudson Headwaters Health Network, Queensbury, NY; reduce smoking among Asian Americans by Charles B. Wang Community Health Center, New York, NY; improve colon cancer screening rates by Adelante Healthcare, Phoenix, AZ; reduce diabetes-related emergencies by ACCESS Family Health, Neosho, MO; and improve cervical cancer screening rates in six health center communities by the Colorado Community Health Network, Denver, CO.
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Santa Rosa Community Health Centers provides primary care, mental health and dental services to low-income and uninsured individuals in Sonoma County, CA. SRCHC is dedicated to providing excellent patient-centered health care services to underserved people in our community, regardless of their ability to pay. We’re dedicated to caring for the whole person with dignity and respect, educating health care professionals, and creating a continuous learning environment for all staff. For more information, visit www.srhealthcenters.org.
The RCHN Community Health Foundation is a not-for-profit foundation established to support community health centers through strategic investment, outreach, education, and cutting-edge health policy research. The only foundation in the U.S. dedicated solely to community health centers, RCHN CHF builds on a long-standing commitment to providing accessible, high-quality, community-based healthcare services for underserved and medically vulnerable populations. For more information, visit www.rchnfoundation.org.