[Hpn] Van helps homeless obtain medical care

William C. Tinker wtinker@verizon.net
Mon, 24 Dec 2007 10:13:54 -0500


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Van helps homeless obtain medical care
By Berny Morson, Rocky Mountain News (Contact)=20

http://www.rockymountainnews.com:80/news/2007/dec/24/van-helps-homeless-o=
btain-medical-care/
Monday, December 24, 2007=20
Not all homeless people can get to the Stout Street Clinic operated by =
the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless at 2100 Broadway.

So the agency, which is seeking a Season to Share grant, sends a =
specially equipped van to sites frequented by homeless people, including =
shelters and hotels.

Medical director Ed Farrell has been with the clinic for 13 years. =
Before that, he worked with American Indians in Alaska and South Dakota. =
He is motivated by the belief that everyone has a right to health care.

How did you decide to operate a health van?

We definitely had this vision of, gosh, it would be nice to take the =
care to these people, form the connections, meet them while they're =
having their acute illnesses or needing immunizations, meet their acute =
care needs and then really get them so they'll come down and get the =
more comprehensive care at Stout Street.

What kind of vehicle do you use?

Initially we had this very old, small, dilapidated van that was just =
like an old beat-up RV. It kept breaking down and we'd be cancelling =
clinics. And it wasn't big enough to do a more complete exam.

The current van is actually a pretty large, specially designed health =
outreach vehicle that's got two exam rooms and a little registration =
area. It's a clinic on wheels.

What are the most common illnesses you treat?

We'll see strep throat and coughs and colds and bronchitis. We =
definitely see other types of infections, like cellulitis or infections =
of the skin and soft tissue. Definitely we will see infestations, like =
lice or scabies.

We see people who have chronic diseases like hypertension and asthma and =
emphysema.

Some of the things you'll see with kids - you'll see acute ear =
infections. We see kids coming in needing immunizations. We definitely =
see trauma. I saw a kid who potentially had a broken finger; I saw a =
baby with a diaper rash; a mother whose child was six or eight weeks old =
- she was fleeing domestic violence. What about mental illness?

There's a very significant percentage of homeless people who have mental =
illness. We don't have medications for major depression on the van.

One day I saw a woman with very serious depression. I actually connected =
with her, got her medications she could pick up next day in the clinic, =
and then she saw me a week later in the clinic. She's stayed connected =
with me to get treatment for her depression, and she's doing a lot =
better now. Without the van, she never would have come down to 2100 =
Broadway.

Does the van follow a regular route?

It operates Monday through Friday. It actually does more than 40 hours =
per week. We have a very regular schedule. One morning a week, we go to =
St. Francis Day Shelter. Every Monday night, we go to the biggest =
shelter, the Crossroads Shelter.

There'll be a point person (at the shelters) and they'll help with crowd =
control and sign-up on the list. They can say, "Look, you've really got =
to see John Doe because he's got a bad deal going on with his leg."

How many people do you see on the van?

I think our numbers at this point are about 220 to 240 a month. It's not =
a huge number. It's a pretty good number. Sometimes what you're doing =
is, you're seeing one of those depressed people or one of those people =
who's fleeing domestic violence and you're making sure you take the =
extra time instead of just talking care of the rash on their foot and =
getting them out the door.

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<DIV>
<DIV id=3Dstory_header>
<H1 class=3Dheadline>Van helps homeless obtain medical care</H1>
<H3 class=3Dbyline>By <A=20
href=3D"http://www.rockymountainnews.com/staff/berny-morson/"><FONT=20
color=3D#da1a21>Berny Morson</FONT></A>, Rocky Mountain News (<A =
class=3Dcontactlink=20
href=3D"http://www.rockymountainnews.com/staff/berny-morson/contact/"><FO=
NT=20
color=3D#da1a21>Contact</FONT></A>) </H3>
<DIV class=3Dbyline><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2></FONT>&nbsp;</DIV>
<DIV class=3Dbyline><FONT face=3DArial size=3D2><A=20
href=3D"http://www.rockymountainnews.com:80/news/2007/dec/24/van-helps-ho=
meless-obtain-medical-care/">http://www.rockymountainnews.com:80/news/200=
7/dec/24/van-helps-homeless-obtain-medical-care/</A></FONT></DIV>
<H4 class=3Dpubdate>Monday, December 24, 2007 </H4></DIV><!-- End =
story_header -->
<DIV id=3Dstory_body>
<P>Not all homeless people can get to the Stout Street Clinic operated =
by the=20
Colorado Coalition for the Homeless at 2100 Broadway.</P>
<P>So the agency, which is seeking a Season to Share grant, sends a =
specially=20
equipped van to sites frequented by homeless people, including shelters =
and=20
hotels.</P>
<P>Medical director Ed Farrell has been with the clinic for 13 years. =
Before=20
that, he worked with American Indians in Alaska and South Dakota. He is=20
motivated by the belief that everyone has a right to health care.</P>
<P>How did you decide to operate a health van?</P>
<P>We definitely had this vision of, gosh, it would be nice to take the =
care to=20
these people, form the connections, meet them while they=92re having =
their acute=20
illnesses or needing immunizations, meet their acute care needs and then =
really=20
get them so they=92ll come down and get the more comprehensive care at =
Stout=20
Street.</P>
<P>What kind of vehicle do you use?</P>
<P>Initially we had this very old, small, dilapidated van that was just =
like an=20
old beat-up RV. It kept breaking down and we=92d be cancelling clinics. =
And it=20
wasn=92t big enough to do a more complete exam.</P>
<P>The current van is actually a pretty large, specially designed health =

outreach vehicle that=92s got two exam rooms and a little registration =
area. It=92s=20
a clinic on wheels.</P>
<P>What are the most common illnesses you treat?</P>
<P>We=92ll see strep throat and coughs and colds and bronchitis. We =
definitely see=20
other types of infections, like cellulitis or infections of the skin and =
soft=20
tissue. Definitely we will see infestations, like lice or scabies.</P>
<P>We see people who have chronic diseases like hypertension and asthma =
and=20
emphysema.</P>
<P>Some of the things you=92ll see with kids =97 you=92ll see acute ear =
infections. We=20
see kids coming in needing immunizations. We definitely see trauma. I =
saw a kid=20
who potentially had a broken finger; I saw a baby with a diaper rash; a =
mother=20
whose child was six or eight weeks old =97 she was fleeing domestic =
violence. What=20
about mental illness?</P>
<P>There=92s a very significant percentage of homeless people who have =
mental=20
illness. We don=92t have medications for major depression on the =
van.</P>
<P>One day I saw a woman with very serious depression. I actually =
connected with=20
her, got her medications she could pick up next day in the clinic, and =
then she=20
saw me a week later in the clinic. She=92s stayed connected with me to =
get=20
treatment for her depression, and she=92s doing a lot better now. =
Without the van,=20
she never would have come down to 2100 Broadway.</P>
<P>Does the van follow a regular route?</P>
<P>It operates Monday through Friday. It actually does more than 40 =
hours per=20
week. We have a very regular schedule. One morning a week, we go to St. =
Francis=20
Day Shelter. Every Monday night, we go to the biggest shelter, the =
Crossroads=20
Shelter.</P>
<P>There=92ll be a point person (at the shelters) and they=92ll help =
with crowd=20
control and sign-up on the list. They can say, =93Look, you=92ve really =
got to see=20
John Doe because he=92s got a bad deal going on with his leg.=94</P>
<P>How many people do you see on the van?</P>
<P>I think our numbers at this point are about 220 to 240 a month. =
It=92s not a=20
huge number. It=92s a pretty good number. Sometimes what you=92re doing =
is, you=92re=20
seeing one of those depressed people or one of those people who=92s =
fleeing=20
domestic violence and you=92re making sure you take the extra time =
instead of just=20
talking care of the rash on their foot and getting them out the =
door.</P></DIV><!-- End story_body --></DIV></BODY></HTML>

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