The Partnership Health Center launched the Community Care Team to provide mobile medical assistance to homeless people in Missoula.
KGVO News spoke with Executive Director Laurie Francis who provided insight into the goal of the Community Care Team.
“We are working to ensure that people who cannot be in permanent stable housing have access to medical care, social care and the ability to move to housing while they live in various neighborhoods in the community,” Francis said. “Let’s coordinate better. Let’s add some resources. Let’s add nursing, medical care and rental assistance and see what we can do to help people improve their health and well-being and ultimately house them.
Francis exposed a hard truth to the people of Missoula about homelessness.
“People who live on the streets don’t want to be there,” she said. “They are humans like all of us. They deserve compassion and respect. They feel very exposed. All of us would feel the same if we lived outdoors, and it’s especially dangerous for women outdoors. Then, of course, there are the very real issues of discrimination, poverty, and low education that allow people to have jobs that would allow them to afford housing.
Francis said homeless people have real trust issues with the community and the community care team is striking to earn that trust by providing medical care with no strings attached.
“Trust is such a big deal,” she said. “People who live in difficult circumstances haven’t necessarily been well supported by many of our societal structures, so they doubt the attempt to raise awareness. That’s why we have constant staff. We work very carefully with many other organizations and we respect people’s priorities and rights very well. We don’t impose our wants or our priorities, but we ask them what they need and what they want and see how we can partner their.
Francis provided details of the different places where homeless people can get medical attention if needed.
“We have a clinical site at the Poverello Center,” she said. We have a clinic at the Partnership Health Center Creamery, which is on Railroad Street. We also have a site near Lowell School. At any time, people can come into the Poverello Center and talk to us about their health care needs or the Creamery. Beyond that, if they are on the street, in a permanent support outdoor accommodation area, we can work with them there and refer them inwards if necessary.
The Community Care Team works closely with the Poverello Center, St. Patrick’s Hospital, Western Montana Mental Health Center and Hope Rescue Mission. Missoula County and the City of Missoula provided funding from the American Rescue Plan Act to start and maintain the CCT.
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