Reading Hospital Foundation Receives Impact Grant from United Way of Berks for Street Medicine Program

The Reading Hospital Foundation has received a $320,694 Impact Grant from the United Way of Berks County to help fund the Street Medicine Program.

With the funds, the Street Medicine program will begin to offer telemedicine services for patients and hire a Clinical Director and RN Case Manager to grow and enhance the program.

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The Clinical Director and the RN Case Manager will help treat patients in the community, inpatient, and virtual environments. The grant will also support development of the “Street Medicine Consult Program.” This program provides comprehensive patient education and case management services.

“The Street Medicine Program has been providing care to some of the most vulnerable individuals in our community since 2016,” said William M. Jennings, Reading Hospital President and CEO.

“Our team deeply appreciates the United Way of Berks County for this substantial grant to help the Street Medicine team continue to grow and expand the services they are able to offer. Our dedicated team of volunteer clinicians see an average of 1,200 patients in our community each year. I thank the United Way, our volunteers, and our community partners who support this important program that brings healthcare directly to those in need.”

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The Street Medicine program uses a team approach to deliver primary, preventative care to the unsheltered homeless, those living in homeless shelters, and those at high risk of being homeless.

The goal is to proactively address health issues, decrease emergency department visits, reduce readmission rates, and reduce costs and increase care plans and medication adherence.

“Our program treats patients in a safe community setting, examining each patient’s complex healthcare and social needs, reducing unnecessary emergency department visits, and increasing access to primary care,” said Eugene York, MD, Internal Medicine Physician and Street Medicine Volunteer.

“Our patients receive the same level of care and attention as they would visiting a primary care physician. Patients are registered, triaged, and then seen by a physician. Each physician carries a backpack weighing approximately 50 pounds of supplies. The goal is to replicate what you might find in a brick-and-mortar primary care practice. Our physicians can provide immediate treatment in most cases and can prescribe medication when needed. Whenever possible, our goal is to give the patient a supply of their medication prior to the visit ending to increase medication adherence.”

Desha Dickson, Associate Vice President, Community Wellness at Reading Hospital added, “Homelessness and healthcare are closely tied together. We know that, nationally, nearly one third of all visits to the emergency room are made by people struggling with chronic homelessness. Studies show that, on average, homeless individuals visit the ED five times per year. This patient population has high rates of emergency department utilization, often leaves against medical advice, and has a higher than average 30-day readmission rate. The funding from the United Way of Berks County will help our Street Medicine patients be an active and engaged partner in their healthcare.”

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