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By The Skanner News | The Skanner News
Published: 14 June 2006

Homeless people in Multnomah County will be able to breathe a little easier — literally. A mobile clinic operated by the county may soon be coming to a neighborhood near them.

The 40-foot medical van will offer medical care, lab and screening services at designated social service agencies. More than 2,200 homeless and medically underserved people may be seen at the mobile clinic, which could receive more than 10,000 visits in its first year.

The Coalition for Homeless Families estimates that there are 8,388 persons living in homeless families in Multnomah County. In 2004, Multnomah County Health Department conducted a survey of 144 homeless families and found:

• 48 percent represented a family of four or more;

• 27 percent represented working families;

• 30 percent had no health insurance;

• 69 percent had insurance coverage through the Oregon Health Plan; and

• 53 percent had at least one family member with a chronic health condition.

The Health Department also conducted an in-depth analysis of health care needs for the homeless in its March 2006 Health Care for the Homeless Inventory Additional information is available on the National Centeron Family Homelessness Web site: www.familyhomeless.org.

Eight community organizations will host the mobile medical clinic and will provide services such as case management, domestic violence intervention, housing, employment, education and support groups. Host organizations include: Albina Ministerial Alliance, Community Transitional School, Friendly House, Human Solutions — Mid-County site, JOIN, Portland Impact — Gateway and Brentwood Darlington offices, and Salvation Army Harbor Light, Door of Hope.

Lillian Shirley, health department director for Multnomah County, said one person treated at the van means one less person seeking emergency room help.

"Equally important is linking with our partner agencies that provide the services and supports to help these families become self-sufficient," Shirley said.

Funding for the van and its medical services was made possible by a $50,000 grant from Kaiser Permanente, $123,000 from United Way and a $498,000 federal grant from Health Resources and Services Administration. Multnomah County contributed $27,300 toward the purchase of the van. The human resources grant will provide ongoing funding. This federal funding, along with Medicaid revenue, will help to sustain the program.

Visit www.mchealth.org/documents/healthcare_for_homeless.pdf for more information

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