LINCOLN, Neb. (KOLN) – A free clinic hits the streets, finding Lincoln’s homeless population and figuring out how to help.
Three months ago, Clinic with a Heart launched its street medicine program. Currently it consists of only one volunteer, but helps Lincoln’s vulnerable population once a month.
Street Medicine volunteer provider Joel Ruiz uses some of his free time to give back. Ruiz works full-time as a nurse practitioner at Bryan Health and said this experience was different than expected.
“I had this idea that I would go out and do all these physicals, hands-on patient care,” Ruiz said. “That’s not what I do. Much of it was education talking about their already established health diagnosis, offering to try to renew prescriptions.
Clinic with a Heart executive director Teresa Harms Coder said the idea of street medicine has been in the works for some time.
“COVID made me think even more because so many people have closed the doors so far,” said Harms Coder.
In order to best find and help Lincoln’s homeless, the clinic has partnered with Matt Talbot Kitchen and Outreach.
“They have an outreach worker who goes out every week,” Harms Coder said. “So he knows people. He’s a good navigator, he knows how to keep us safe and I think Glenn knew everyone we met on our outings.
During the first three months, Street Medicine focused on downtown Lincoln and getting to know the people of the area.
“Right now the focus has really been to provide care where they are right now,” Ruiz said. “I come to them in the community, so if they’re not actively seeking health care, I try to be accessible.”
The clinic says that as time passes and these relationships are established, they expect the need to grow.
“I imagine that under a lot of these shoes and socks are wounds,” Harms Coder said.
If you would like to join the street medicine team, you can find more information at clinicwithaheart.com.
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