New Program Aims To Break Barriers In Access To Health Care For The Unhoused

Oct 17, 2020


Two new modular buildings nearby the St. Vincent de Paul’s Dawn to Dawn site off Highway 99 will offer medical and behavioral health services to the unhoused. The program called the Hub is a collaborative effort between SVdP and Willamette Family Treatment.
Credit Melorie Begay/KLCC

A new program supported by Willamette Family Treatment and St. Vincent de Paul aims to make behavioral and physical health care more accessible for unhoused people. Operating within walking distance from the Dawn to Dawn site and the Eugene Service Station, The Hub could be a “game changer.”

Basic medical services like wound care, and mental health treatment can be found inside two modular buildings right outside SVdP’s Dawn to Dawn site, off of Highway 99. 

The Hub’s convenient location is critical, said Colleen Smith since it means people experiencing homelessness won’t need to go far to get help. Smith is the Director of WFT’s Rapid Access Center and Health Services.

“It’s all right here in order to provide the best outcomes because the truth of the matter is when a person wants help and they want to change you got a second for that usually and if it’s not right there and if there’s a bunch of obstacles in place they’re not going to do it most likely,” she said.

Services are available for individuals plugged into the Eugene Service Station, or Dawn to Dawn. The idea is to prevent unhoused people from waiting until they need emergency services to get care, and to assist and encourage stable housing. 

“Let’s say they have a mental health condition...they feel really alone and isolated and don’t know what to do, and a lot of times when individuals are in that position or that place they may just walk away from what they have,” Smith said.

Having a dedicated clinic for the unhoused community provides a level of trust between patients and staff, and there’s less room for judgement, Smith added.

“We’re coming in and saying ‘hey you can do this, we’re here to help you, it’s okay what you got going on’ because we’ve normalized what’s going on here already,” Smith said.

One of the modular units houses three examination rooms and space for mental and behavioral health support. The other building is currently being used as a classroom area to help those transitioning into affordable housing, according to Roxann O’Brien, SVdP Director of Homeless and Emergency Services.

“[The class] teaches you how to be a good renter, how to maintain your housing, budget your money, your landlord tenant laws, self-esteem things like that that once you get housed will keep you housed,” O’Brien said.

In addition, the Hub has other services online like crisis intervention, and signing people up for the Oregon Health Plan. O’Brian told KLCC she’s excited about the collaboration with Willamette Family, and they’re hoping to expand in the future.

“It’s just a great partnership, we feel like this is the link that’s been missing from the be able to walk a couple hundred feet [to get care] is going to be a game changer.”

Copyright 2020, KLCC