A local med school and health centers are teaming up to bring a mobile healthcare unit to the streets of Austin that provides much needed health services to the homeless community.
The concept is brought to life by the Dell Medical School at The University of Texas at Austin, Integral Care and CommUnityCare Health Centers. The announcement this federally-funded program is coming to Austin came December 12.
A $2.3 million grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration over a period of five years is funding the partnership. The grant will cover payroll of the team of full and part-time staff, supplies and evaluations. Medical care and medications for patients will be covered by the patient’s insurance if they have it or by the Central Health’s Medical Access Program if they don’t have insurance.
The goal of the program is to provide health care to vulnerable women, people struggling with chronic and mental illnesses as well as those fighting substance abuse. The mobile unit will drive directly to those that need the medical care and help ease the strain on hospital emergency rooms.
There is a group of around 300 individuals in Austin that suffer from all of the above ailments that the team will focus on. However, people do not have all of the listed illnesses to qualify for care.
The team running the mobile unit will consist of six people including a primary care physician, psychiatrist, nurse case manager, licensed chemical dependency counselor, mental health professional case manager and peer navigator.
Aside from providing health care the assigned team will conduct research to determine the success of the program and update existing connections and databases to better serve the homeless community.
Many homeless people in Austin are not only struggling with multiple health issues due to homelessness but are homeless because of their struggle with health problems.