Garden Grove

‘House calls’ for the homeless

MICHAEL HUNN, CEO of Cal Optima Health, speaking in front of Garden Grove City Hall.

By Jim Tortolano/Orange County Tribune

House calls by doctors are a thing of the past, but “house”calls for the un-housed may be the next big thing in coping with the homeless crisis in Orange County.

A new approach to “street medicine” that will be pioneered in the Big Strawberry was unveiled Tuesday in front of Garden Grove City Hall. Representatives of CalOptima Health, city and county officials revealed plans – already underway – for the Healthcare in Action project which seek to bring health care to the unsheltered  and also help put them on the path to no longer being homeless.

INSIDE the Healthcare in Action van.

The operation will utilize a van that is a mobile doctor’s office and a team that includes physician assistants, a registered nurse, “peer” navigators and a care manager.

Kelly Bruno-Nelson, executive director of MediCal/CalAIM, explains how the process will work.

“This programming is using a canvassing approach,” she said. “Care teams of two people – one individual that is a social worker and one with lived experience – literally canvass the streets. And so, working with the police department, we know the hot spots in the city. They literally go out and introduce themselves. Rapport first, care second.

“They tell them [homeless persons] about the program and ask them if they’d like to be a part of it. Other ‘street medicine’ programs will set up in a park or a shelter, and while those programs are important, that’s not genuine street medicine because we still require the person to come to us. This is us coming to the people.”

The care teams will have a case load and visit their clients weekly and sometimes twice a week, said Bruno-Nelson, “to see if they need help with housing, with doctor’s appointments, things like that.”
Speakers at the press conference included Orange County Supervisor (Second District ) Vincente Sarmiento, Micheal Hunn (CEO of Cal Optima Health), Bruno-Nelson, Health Care in Action CEO Michael Hochman and Garden Grove Mayor Steve Jones and City Manager Lisa Kim.


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