The Tower Health Medical Group Street Medicine Program hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony Friday for its first Telemedicine kiosk at Hope Rescue Mission, located at 645 N 6th Street in Reading.
During the ceremony, remarks were made by Anthony Donato, MD, Street Medicine Physician; Katherine Thornton, President, Reading Hospital Foundation; Rob Turchi, Executive Director of Hope Rescue Mission; and Mark Roberto, patient.
The new kiosk was partially funded by a grant from the United Way of Berks County and FirstEnergy Foundation. The Street Medicine Program anticipates the kiosk will provide virtual medical appointments up to an additional 20 to 25 patients per week. The kiosk will be available through scheduled appointments, walk-in appointments, and evening hours.
“We are very excited that we can now offer virtual visits to patients,” said Dr. Donato. “Access to care continues to be a challenge for those who are homeless in our community. The Street Medicine team, along with our partners and generous donors, are committed to removing barriers to care and the Telemedicine Kiosk is a shining example of strong community partnerships and creative problem solving.”
The Street Medicine program uses a team approach to deliver primary and preventive care to the unsheltered homeless, those living in homeless shelters, and those at high risk of experiencing homelessness.
“We are pleased to provide a $100,000 grant through the FirstEnergy Foundation’s ‘Investing with Purpose’ initiative to help fund this critical resource to meet the health and wellness needs of this underserved population,” said Lorna Wisham, president of The FirstEnergy Foundation. “This program is a precise fit for ‘Investing with Purpose’, which supports organizations that advance health and safety, workforce development, educational and social justice initiatives.”
Charles F. Barbera, MD, Vice President of Pre-Hospital and Unscheduled Care added, “The new kiosk will remove a barrier to individuals to participate in telemedicine services and provide care when and where patients need it. When a patient selects to use this service, they will have an appointment with a Street Medicine Provider and all information will be document in their MyTowerHealth electronic medical record.”
The goal is to proactively address health issues, decrease emergency department visits, reduce readmission rates, and reduce costs and increase adherence to care plans and medication plans. In fiscal year 2021 the Street Medicine Program cared for a total of 1,150 patients.
Tammy White, President of Berks County United Way said, “We know homelessness is hazardous to good health – – that’s why we are excited to support the Street Medicine program and expand medical care for our most vulnerable residents. United Way’s Impact Grant, which is supported by the gift we received from MacKenzie Scott, supports a critical community need through this innovative program. The kiosks serve as an important tool in providing health screenings and assessments, as well as help break barriers and decrease emergency room visits. United Way is pleased to be a part of this community partnership.”
Donations from local organizations and community members to the Reading Hospital Foundation ensures they can help continue to help meet the needs of Street Medicine patients. Those interested in donating can visit towerhealth.org/RHFoundation.