The highest needs of the unhoused people in our community are often seen as food, shelter, and clothing. But those who work closely with them know that no two unhoused people are the same. That’s why, with the help of your support, we launched the Columbia River Mobile Health team last fall.
With a well-equipped van as their base, our mobile team visits the encampments of the unhoused. They may be victims of domestic violence, elderly individuals on fixed incomes who lost their homes, veterans, or people dealing with a mental health or addiction crisis. Meeting those challenges is just as critical to their well-being as food, shelter, and clothing.
A nurse, a mental health therapist, a substance use counselor, and a peer support person provide on-site medical and behavioral health services.
Mike Delay, Substance Use Disorder and Mobile Programs Director, says his team represents a customized, innovative solution to a very complex problem.
“This is the first truly interdisciplinary team that’s solely focused on this population,” he says. “Combining physical health and wellness with behavioral health and wellness is kind of a unique opportunity that hasn’t been explored in our community.”
Anthony is a camper who, when the Mobile Health team arrived, was experiencing an apparent heart attack. Registered Nurse Rachelle Noche immediately assessed Anthony, then called Kevin Fischer, MD, Columbia River’s chief medical officer. Fischer and Noche agreed that Anthony needed to refill his cardiovascular drug prescription, which was then delivered to Anthony at the camp. Their collaboration may well have saved Anthony’s life. It definitely streamlined his process for getting what he needed for his condition.
“Being able to call a physician of Dr. Fischer’s caliber and receive treatment advice while at the camp demonstrates the need for this type of service,” Delay says. “Everything is just so hard for someone who is unhoused, living in a tent or car.”
When the mobile unit was launched in November, the team visited campers during daytime hours Tuesday through Friday. Thanks to your gifts, campers will soon receive care seven days a week.
To stay updated on all that’s happening at Columbia River check out our other blog posts.