RRH, UR bring health care to the homeless – rbj.net

RRH, UR bring health care to the homeless

by: Gino Fanelli

When the term medical innovation is brought up, it conjures images of groundbreaking medical technology, cures for illnesses through extensive experimentation and, ultimately, a benefit for all of humankind.

But in a place like Rochester, which has access to some of the highest level of care in the nation, there is a third kind of innovation: finding a way to bring that care to the people who need it the most and are too often left out of the system.

That’s exactly what Rochester Regional Health and the University of Rochester are doing; RRH through its Mobile Medical units, and UR via its Street Medicine program.

They’re two very different forms of outreach. RRH puts a dental practice and primary care practice on wheels—a modified van traveling to key areas to offer care. No payment, no insurance, no questions asked. UR’s Street Medicine Team is made up of medical students popping up at shelters three times a week.

On a frigid February afternoon, the RRH dental unit parks itself on the street outside a north side Volunteers of America Shelter. It’s a modest setup; a single dental chair situated in the back portion of the van and the mid-portion converted to a sort of waiting room. Put into commission in 2011, it’s the second medical unit since the program’s inception in 1998 and a move up from a rundown truck used in the early days of the program.

“Our philosophy with this program has always been to bring care to the homeless, rather than have them come to us,” said Carlos Swanger, medical director for the Mobile Medical unit and a 20-year veteran of program. “We do go to some shelters directly, without the unit. It’s sometimes easier that way. You have more space inside to provide care. But sometimes we don’t have that access, we don’t have that space, and that’s where the mobile unit comes in.”

There’s no payment required to access the van. No need to call ahead, no need for insurance, just come in and you’ll be treated. But that part can be tricky. Many homeless, as both teams are quick to point out, are inherently fearful of the medical system.

“I have one patient who comes to the door every time, and he’ll just say ‘hello,’” said April Taylor, dental assistant. “I keep wanting him to come on the bus, and I keep wanting him to come inside, but he just comes back and says hello. That’s my goal now, to get him on the bus and get him dental.”

The sentiment is echoed by the URMC students. They are even less equipped, and do not have the means to provide direct medical care. They can take looks, make suggestions and coordinate access to care. But they are also tasked with a sometimes insurmountable job; to break the barrier between the homeless and medical care. Armed with the most basic of medical supplies and a van whose every key turn is a roll of the dice, the fully donation-supported team heads to House of Mercy on a snowy Wednesday evening. Their goal, first and foremost, is to talk.

“We’re there mostly to interact, to be a friendly face,” said Michael Healey, a second year medical student and student director of the program. “We can bring a flu shot, and look to see if there’s something wrong, but mostly, we just try to talk.”

It’s a difficult issue, as volunteer and second-year medical student Stephen Hassig was quick to explain.

RRH, UR bring health care to the homeless 

Greece and Parma receive funding to rebuild after flooding – Rbj.net

Greece and Parma receive funding to rebuild after flooding

by: Velvet Spicer

The towns of Greece and Parma have received $942,000 to restore and rebuild following last year’s Lake Ontario flooding, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced last week. The funding is being used to reimburse for emergency costs as well as rebuild and fortify the infrastructure to protect communities from future damage.

The state has committed $55 million to recovery efforts to support homeowners, small businesses and community infrastructure.

“Last year these Monroe County communities experienced severe flooding along the shores of Lake Ontario, and we continue to stand with members of our New York family who are still recovering,” Cuomo said in a statement Thursday. “This funding will continue to give real relief (to) these communities and help Greece and Parma build back stronger and smarter than ever before.”

The Town of Greece has been awarded more than $576,000 to cover reimbursements related to the flood damage, inspection services for potentially at-risk areas and the implementation of traffic control measures. Roughly 97,000 residents were affected by the flooding that occurred along the Lake Ontario coastline from Braddock Bay to Round Pond.

Parma has received more than $366,000 in grant funds to cover emergency expenses, inspection services for at-risk areas, traffic control measure, the purchase of equipment to pump overburdened storm drains and other items. Some 16,000 residents were affected by major flood damage where a break wall eroded.

“The flooding of Lake Ontario in 2017 took a significant toll on public infrastructure and therefore impacted every local taxpayer, not just those who live near the lake,” Monroe County Executive Cheryl Dinolfo said. “Our county teams worked hard to ensure that no public services were disrupted by the flooding, but even now we are still repairing impacted infrastructure while reinvesting in improvement projects to prevent future damage.”

vspicer@bridgetowermedia.com / 585-653-4021
Follow Velvet Spicer on Twitter: @Velvet_Spicer

Greece and Parma receive funding to rebuild after flooding 

Washington Post: HUD looks to remove anti-discrimination language from mission statement

Washington Post: HUD looks to remove anti-discrimination language from mission statement

By: Eli Watkins, CNN

(CNN)The Department of Housing and Urban Development is looking to remove anti-discrimination language from its mission statement, The Washington Post reported Wednesday.

The department announced that it was considering changing the mission statement in an open letter to employees from Secretary Ben Carson on Thursday. But Carson’s letter denied the changes “signal some sort of retreat from our legal and rightful role in protecting Americans from housing discrimination.”

“The Department’s mission statement has changed from time to time to capture the dynamic nature of our work. …” Carson added. “But the notion that any new mission statement would reflect a lack of commitment to fair housing is nonsense.”

A HUD spokesman told CNN on Wednesday that “no new statement has been decided upon,” and said the past two administrations had changed the department’s mission statement.

The mission statement as currently written says the department’s mission includes building “inclusive and sustainable communities free from discrimination.”

A memo obtained by Huffington Post that HUD reportedly verified to The Washington Post has language that would shorten the statement significantly, including the words “free from discrimination,” and insert a focus on ensuring “opportunities to achieve self-sufficiency.”

According to the reports, HUD official Amy Thompson wrote in the memo that the statement included input from HUD Secretary Ben Carson, who recently came under fire for lavish spending.

In a statement on Wednesday, HUD acknowledged that it is seeking to make “modest changes to the department’s mission statement” and said it would nevertheless continue to try to oppose discrimination in housing.

The statement continued, “Any mission statement for this department will embody the principle of fairness as a central element of everything we do. HUD has been, is now, and always will be committed to ensuring inclusive housing, free from discrimination for all Americans.”

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