When taking medicine to the streets, the Valley Homeless Healthcare Program staff hopes to treat infections and illnesses before homeless patients require emergency care. Nurses in the backpack medicine program have bags filled with medical supplies they use to administer flu shots, immunizations for tetanus and diphtheria and oral HIV tests, check blood pressure and blood sugar and treat infections.
Theres no typical day in this job, Mark Block, RN, said. We see a lot of cases of poison ivy and rashes, but we also see patients with chronic conditions such as poorly controlled diabetes or with wounds that are at risk of infection.
In addition to healthcare, VHHP offers mental health counseling, and can help clients qualify for Medi-Cal, and other basic services such as shelter, bus transportation and meals.
Many of the patients we see have pressing social needs in addition to their healthcare needs, Janet Kohl, RN, VHHP nurse coordinator, said. I remember talking to one patient who had no way to get to the pharmacy to pick up his prescription, so I gave him bus tokens. For others who are hungry, food is their main priority.
For more information
To read more about the program, visit http://news.nurse.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=2014141105005#.VFvKRvnF8QM