St. Mary's Residents provide free medical care to local people who are homeless through partnership with Grand Valley Catholic Outreach Day Center
The Grand Valley Catholic Outreach Day Center provides the amenities of home – a warm shower, laundry, telephone, mail, storage and access to local resources to those experiencing homelessness in the community.
Twelve years ago, St. Mary’s Medical Center teamed up with the Center to provide medical and behavioral health services to those at the Day Center. Each week, St. Mary’s Family Residency Program members go to the Center to provide patients basic medical care, preventative health care and counseling services free of charge.
The residents at St. Mary’s treat everything from infections to frostbite and work with those experiencing addiction issues and assist with setting them up with primary care physicians. This partnership with the Center provides the patients with a safe and comfortable place with a home-like feel where they’re much more likely to come in when issues first arise instead of waiting until they’re really sick and must go to the Emergency Department.
“Everyone is welcome here,” said Jody Visconti Clow, director of the Day Center. “It's not uncommon for people who are homeless to be judged and marginalized in our healthcare system, especially when they overutilize the Emergency Department. The Day Center is a safe, friendly and inclusive environment. People can sign up to see the doctor, behavioral health provider or both after they shower and change into clean clothes.”
The doctors typically see about six patients per week and the patients can see the same doctors for recurrent visits if they choose, which allows for a more comfortable experience.
“The surroundings here are familiar, the people are familiar, and the atmosphere is generally calm,” Jody said. “The idea is to provide care where people are so they can hopefully avoid extra trips to the ER, get some preventative care and establish trusting relationships.”