HOMELESS HELP — New healthcare center brings hope
By Olivia Obineme
Published: Friday, January 29 2010
Sitting in a wheelchair outside Our Daily Bread on Thursday afternoon, Louise Daniels clenches her fist, fighting the bite of a stiff midwinter wind.
Homeless for three years, the 43-year-old mother of four had two fingers amputated last week — the brittle bandages still tightly wound, blood stains, surgery she attributes in part to years of being homeless and going without medical care.
(I.V. Photos/Stephen Janis)
NOWHERE ELSE TO GO
“Being homeless is stressful,” she said. “People get real sick, they get pneumonia from being outside and I had diabetes and it made it worse.”
That’s why when Daniels and a friend happened upon the new Healthcare for the Homeless facility on the 400 block of Fallsway in downtown Baltimore — set to open in days — she was happy,
I said, “Look at that, that’s a good thing; there’s a place for people who have nowhere else to go.”
The 25-year-old nonprofit organization is now in final preparations for the move after spending the past 18 years at 111 Park Ave.
The move into the $15.5 million facility is an “opportunity to help more people,” said HCH CEO Jeff Singer.
According to the agency’s spokesperson, Kevin Lindamood, the old building was closed Thursday and remains closed Friday and Saturday; the new Fallsway facility opens to accept patients on Monday.
FIRST DENTAL CLINIC FOR HOMELESS
The new facility is triple the size of the former location, and will include a pharmacy and pediatric clinic as well as Maryland’s first dental clinic for the homeless.
“The goal is to give the homeless enough services and to help them get housing,” Singer said.
The population of homeless individuals in Baltimore increased 12 percent between 2007 and 2009, from 3,001 homeless in 2007 to 3,419 in January 2009, according to the Baltimore Homeless Point-In-Time 2009 census, which is conducted biannually by Baltimore City Homeless Services.
“Part of it is that apartments have been foreclosed or some people are losing their jobs, creating an increase in homelessness,” Singer said.
INTENSIFIED NEED FOR HELP
The increase in the homeless population has intensified the need for help, including healthcare, said Greg Sileo, Baltimore Homeless Services Inc.’s director of outreach services. “It’s a given trend due to the economy.”
“I think that most homeless shelters around the nation are facing the same thing,” added Diane Glauber, president of Baltimore Homeless Services.
“Many cities are far worse than Baltimore.”
However the increased demand for medical treatment for homeless people is not limited to the city.
Demand is also on the rise in Baltimore County, said Dr. Melly Goodell, medical director of HCH’s Baltimore County branch, who has seen an increase in the number of patients at her newly opened facility that provides healthcare for the county’s homeless.
“[The increase] has direct ties to the economy, and people have lost jobs in areas like the housing industry,” Goodell said, adding, “We are seeing an increase in the number of new patients accessing our care, we feel in part because of an increased number of homeless in this area.”
Since the clinic opened in late January 2008 at Franklin Square Hospital’s Eastern Family Resource Center, Goodell said, the clinic has had 4,400 visits from about 1,000 women, men and children.
COMPREHENSIVE MEDICAL CARE
“More people know about us and are seeking us out as the only comprehensive medical care services specifically for homeless individuals in Baltimore County,” she explained.
The U.S. Department of Health funded the facility as part of a three-year grant that provides “comprehensive care to homeless residents of Baltimore County,” according to the facility’s web site.
Added Goodell: “We make every attempt to serve all in need, but we have more consolidated service.”
“Our barriers in general are inadequate dental services, inadequate mental health services, poor transportation, limited access to medical specialties — cardiology, neurology, and other specialists, prescription medication coverage — expensive mental health meds in particular,” she said.
“In our new facility, we’ll continue the high-quality care we’ve provided since 1985 and help even more of our most vulnerable neighbors move from the streets to the mainstream,” Singer added.
Lindamood said the new HCH facility will have “grand-opening activities” set for the public on March 25.
I.V. Senior Reporter & Content Director Stephen Janis contributed to this firstname.lastname@example.org
Courtesy of Investigative Voice