Getting to a clinic while experiencing homelessness can be especially challenging, but for the men who stay at Corvallis’ cold-weather shelter this winter, Samaritan Health Services is bringing the clinic to them.
Weekly since November, SamCare Mobile Medicine – a roving clinic inside a 40-foot vehicle staffed by Samaritan clinicians – has provided on-demand, walk-in care for shelter clients.
Shelter manager Shawn Collins says the clinic has made a positive difference to the men.
“Having SamCare Mobile Medicine here is important because this is a population not usually connected to a primary care provider,” said Collins. “Even if they are, they aren’t likely to make appointments or go to the clinic when they need to. Instead, they end up in the emergency room, which isn’t good for anyone.”
In his years of working with the area’s homeless, Collins has seen his share of situations in which people put off treatment for illnesses or injuries, often with dire results.
“When we catch health problems earlier, it can ultimately be a lifesaver for them,” he said.
Somphone “Sam” Beasley, FNP, of SamCare Mobile Medicine, agrees.
“This group has a lot of chronic medical issues that need closer monitoring,” Beasley said. “Being at the shelter we can provide a continuity of care for them or provide interim care until they see their primary care provider. Coming to them means they have one less obstacle to getting care.”
Made possible by a grant from the Pastega Family Foundation, SamCare Mobile Medicine will also bring weekly health care services to Helping Hands Homeless Shelter in Albany starting in April.
Additionally, the program serves students of the Greater Albany Public Schools twice monthly and will soon provide similar services at Linn Benton Community College, College Hill High School in Corvallis, Sweet Home United Methodist Church, and several locations in Lincoln County.
Samaritan Health Services also supports local clinics providing free and low-cost health care to patients in need, at locations such as Community Outreach, Inc. in Corvallis and Lebanon, and Albany InReach Services, which serves residents of Albany, Millersburg and Tangent.