Local Medical Treatment for the Homeless

Local Medical Treatment for the Homeless


The Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) in partnership with the County of San Bernardino is expanding medical services for the state’s Whole Person Care program (WPC). WPC coordinates health, behavioral health and social services in a patient-centered manner with the goal of improved health and well-being. The County’s WPC pilot was recently selected to receive additional funding of $500,000, which will allow ARMC to add additional medical care to support the program. With the added funding ARMC’s Emergency Medicine Residency Program, Pharmacy, and the California University of Science and Medicine (CUSM) will work together to provide two new services. The new services include homeless outreach for adults over 55 years old with physical disabilities, and mobile Street Medicine outreach services.  Homeless outreach started in December 2019 and the Street Medicine outreach will begin in January 2020. Both services will be in partnership with the San Bernardino County Sheriff’s Department Homeless Outreach Progressive Enforcement (H.O.P.E) team. Ernest Barrio, Program Manager for Whole Person Care at ARMC discussed the need for the new services. “Vulnerable individuals often have unmet medical and behavioral health needs, who often are experiencing challenging social and economic issues as well, which can exacerbate and complicate the treatment of health conditions.” Barrio concluded, “By enhancing our current health care delivery system to meet the unique needs of this population, our goal is to improve their quality of life and address a growing concern in the community to help the homelessness with medical challenges.” San Bernardino’s WPC program started in 2016. Its target population includes Medi-Cal beneficiaries with two or more chronic conditions. For example, this would include repeated incidents of avoidable emergency use, hospital admissions, nursing facility placement, or mental health and/or substance use disorders.  According to Barrio, the program’s primary goals are coordination of health, behavioral health, social services and comprehensive coordinated care for the beneficiary resulting in better health outcomes. The program also helps to build self-management skills.

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