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Recent Press

Collaboration Will Assist Homeless Individuals with “Boots on the Ground” Medical and Behavioral Health Care

April 14, 2022

Finger Lakes Performing Provider System (FLPPS) is collaborating with Huther Doyle (an addiction treatment organization) and Regional Health Reach (a federally qualified health center serving homeless individuals) to provide medical, dental, and behavioral health care to the unsheltered homeless in the City of Rochester.

Huther Doyle will pilot a one-year Backpack Medicine Program referred to as the “HOPE” Program to provide “boots-on-the-ground” preventive and just-in-time medical interventions for unsheltered homeless individuals with substance use disorders. A mobile team composed of peers and medical students from the URMC Street Outreach Program, a program mentored by URMC faculty Dr. Stella King, will visit homeless encampments two-three times per week.

The mobile team will use telehealth, and a mobile treatment van will be available to provide wound care, blood pressure, and glucose monitoring and initiate engagement to treat substance use disorders and addiction. This grassroots intervention program is designed to meet people where they are to build trust and offer treatment to those who are most vulnerable and least likely to seek support on their own or until they are compelled to seek care in hospital emergency rooms.

Regional Health Reach will collaborate with MC Collaborative to pilot a Street Outreach Program that brings services out of the clinic and provides care directly on the street, in encampments, parks, and under bridges. This Street Outreach Program will deploy a mobile outreach team of providers, medical assistants, and outreach workers to identify and engage with homeless individuals living on the streets or in high-risk areas.

The mobile outreach team will be an extension of Health Reach’s primary care clinic at St. Mary’s and will use telehealth and Blue Tooth enabled stethoscopes to link individuals to care. A mobile medical van will also be available to provide medical and dental care. In addition, MC Collaborative will provide ongoing case management and coordinate home health care management services.

“FLPPS is proud to partner with organizations with deep expertise in fostering trust among the homeless populations and addressing health disparities due to housing insecurity. These innovative programs will provide vital care to vulnerable individuals in our community,” said Carol Tegas, Executive Director of FLPPS.

“Huther Doyle is pleased to have received funding to support this outreach pilot. It is the perfect complement to our mobile treatment unit and will allow us to reach folks who are not yet ready to seek formal treatment for their addiction but who, nonetheless, need and deserve to have a multitude of health care issues looked at and addressed,” said Kelly A. Reed, President & CEO of Huther Doyle.

“Huther Doyle’s HOPE is an exciting collaboration that will reach some of the most vulnerable individuals living in our community. It provides the opportunity to support and engage people at a level of care that has the potential to improve not only the individual’s health but community health as well. It also offers the opportunity to teach and improve understanding of substance use disorders, mental health, addiction, and social determinants of health such as poverty and homelessness and how they impact disease. This will lead to decreased bias and stigma and a greater understanding of addiction and its complications for trainees participating in the program,” said Dr. Tim Wiegand, Medical Director of Huther Doyle and Director of Addiction Toxicology at the University of Rochester Medical Center.

“For decades, Regional Health Reach has been a leader in the community in providing primary care and support services to those experiencing homelessness. Through our traditional clinic, mobile medical unit, and presence at shelters, our Healthcare for the Homeless program has touched thousands of lives. Regional Health Reach is excited to partner with FLPPS and MC Collaborative to expand our reach to unsheltered individuals, meet them where they are, and provide the care they need,” said William E. Belecz, Executive Director of Regional Health Reach.

“The Regional Health Reach system is a unique program of medical, dental, behavioral health, and enabling services that was developed to meet the special health care needs of homeless people. The system is designed to bring services directly to the homeless; rather than waiting for them to come to a centralized location, Health Reach meets the patients where they are: in the shelters and in the streets. We are excited for this opportunity to further extend our reach and provide the much-needed services to the homeless population,” said Dr. Carlos Swanger, Medical Director of Regional Health Reach.

“Our experience has led us to understand that homeless individuals spend most of their time doing whatever it takes to get their basic needs met. To truly engage with them, it is essential that service providers literally meet people ‘where they are at.’ MC Collaborative is thrilled to partner with Regional Health Reach and Huther Doyle to do just that – take to the streets, abandoned buildings, meal programs, underpasses, and tent communities to meet people wherever ‘they are at’ and offer social work and basic medical services,” said Christine McKinley, Co-founder of MC Collaborative.

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