Father Joe’s Villages new Street Health Program is providing outreach health services by bringing medical care directly to people living on the streets.

Street Health Program nurse provides outreach health services to a woman on the streets. On May 16, 2019, Father Joe’s Villages announced its new Street Health Program, the first initiative of its kind in San Diego that aims to provide consistent medical services directly to people on the streets of San Diego. This program is designed to reach the 30 percent of individuals experiencing homelessness who have complex medical needs but do not seek help themselves.

“Many of the people we meet are facing major physical and psychological barriers. Going to the doctor may be a simple task for you and me, but it can be a complicated and frustrating process for these patients,” says Dr. Jeffrey Norris, medical director of Father Joe’s Villages. “What makes our new Street Health Program different is that we are leveraging our decades of experience with outreach at Father Joe’s Villages to identify the people on the streets who need our help right then and there — without any barrier to receiving life-changing care.”

The Street Health Program will allow Father Joe’s Villages to build relationships with these patients over time while also addressing their health needs. A long-term goal of this program is to encourage individuals experiencing homelessness to make it into the Village Health Center regularly and to engage in all the ways Father Joe’s Villages can help them get back on their feet and move off the streets for good.

“For those suffering from substance use disorder or mental illness, one of the greatest challenges is that they are often not ready to seek help on their own. By doing outreach to engage with people directly on the streets, we can build rapport and trust with the goal of increasing the patient’s participation in the care they need to get back on their feet,” said Dr. Norris.

Doctors already working with Father Joe’s Villages at its brick-and-mortar medical clinic have begun traveling out to the streets to provide expert primary care. The program has served about a dozen people so far with primary care.

“Over time, our goal is that our neighbors in need will be more willing to make it into the clinic regularly and engage in all the ways we can help them get back on their feet and move off the streets for good,” says Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages.

Father Joe’s Villages plans to expand the Street Health Program over the next year, with an ultimate goal of providing outreach health services every weekday. As part of this expansion, Father Joe’s Villages plans to provide services that are even more comprehensive, including dental care and even psychiatric care directly to those living on the streets.

“I am proud of my team for witnessing the need for this type of care firsthand and creating the Street Health Program as a solution,” said Deacon Jim.