SALT LAKE CITY — A new pilot program geared toward finding and treating homeless Utahns was recognized Thursday for its collaborative and innovative approach to health care at the 15th Annual Homelessness Summit.

The Nurse Care Management program, launched by Fourth Street Clinic, Association for Utah Community Health, and the Community Foundation of Utah, places registered nurses at various resource agencies in the Salt Lake valley and gives basic medical care and health education to previously-unidentified individuals experiencing homelessness.

Pamela Atkinson, Utah’s homeless advocate, presented the award to the three nonprofits.

“Partnerships between agencies serving our homeless friends is nothing new,” Atkinson said. “But Fourth Street Clinic’s Nurse Care Management program is a model of care that brings a high level of collaboration and cooperation between agencies.”

Laura Michalski, CEO of Fourth Street Clinic, believes the new program deserves recognition.

“Nurse Care Management focuses on three health areas particularly critical among homeless populations: chronic disease management, triaged care, and medication management,” says Michalski. Launched in April of 2018, the program expanded in late summer, serving clients of The Road Home and Volunteers of America-Utah.

By stationing health care providers at the YWCA, First Step House and county-operated supportive housing, the Nurse Care Management program gives homeless men, women and families wider access to immediate care. Sarah Bauman, Development Director at First Step House, says this project builds a strong foundation to recovery.

“As we experience a rise in our patients who struggled with homelessness, our need to respond to their health conditions has also increased,” Bauman said. “Many of our patients have a history of untreated acute and chronic health conditions due to their inability to access critical, timely healthcare.”

Making a “meaningful difference for the homeless community”

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Melissa Pedersen of Fourth Street Clinic smiles as she discusses blood pressure with JD, a resident at Grace Mary Manor. Melissa, a registered nurse, travels to different homeless resource agencies throughout the valley and provides on-the-spot medical care.

The Community Foundation of Utah granted initial funding of more than a half-million dollars to launch the Nurse Care Management program. The Community Foundation of Utah is a local nonprofit organization focused on collective, community philanthropy.

“Our goal is to make a meaningful difference in the quality of life for the homeless community in our state by connecting individuals with the medical care they need,” Alex Eaton, CEO of the Community Foundation of Utah stated. The Association for Utah Community Health creates awareness for public health centers in Utah and helped start the new program, Eaton said.

The award comes after the state allocated nearly $1 million to Fourth Street Clinic to build a large-scale mobile medical unit. Exam and lab rooms built into the unit offers privacy and expanded services when it begins operating in early 2019. Michalski says data gathered from the current program solidifies how to best utilize the mobile unit next year.

“We’re especially excited for mobile medical,” she said. “Removing barriers to care is crucial to success; Fourth Street Clinic’s reach will be huge once the mobile unit rolls out.”