New mobile health unit rolls out in Durham
Durham’s new mobile health unit is now out on the streets.
The pilot project allows medical professionals to get out and provide care to people who may not otherwise seek care for the physical or mental needs.
One of the first stops, Oshawa’s tent city.
Monday, was day one of an eight-month pilot project dedicated to helping displaced individuals.
It may not be as noticeable as a police cruiser or an ambulance, but the community will be seeing more of the mobile health unit on local streets.
“We found typically this group of people, they don’t want to bother people, they don’t want to be of concern for them, they just want to be part of the community, but they have health needs that need to be met,” said Troy Cheseboro, region of Durham paramedic services chief.
Regional Council approved the Primary Care Outreach Pilot last month.
“I think it’s vital, it’s absolutely vital,” said Dan Carter, Oshawa regional councillor.
Carter has been fighting for the initiative for the past year. He knows what these people are going through. He had addiction and mental health issues – as well as being displaced.
“We have to take the services to them, we have to build relationships with them, we have to build trust with them and hopefully be able to provide the services where they are, and if we’re able to do that, I believe it will create new pathways for individuals and a healthier outcome,” said Carter.
A February 2017 Point in Time count revealed over 270 individuals were homeless in the region. According to Carter, that number is likely much higher.
“We’ve got a lot of individuals who are displaced and are hard to reach, and this is one of the ways that we can reach out to those individuals and truly be able to provide the services that they need,” said Carter.
The pilot is expected to cost about $300,000 and is completely funded by the health department and social services budget.
It’s staffed with an advanced care paramedic and a social worker as well as a nurse practitioner two days a week.
“We want to be as discrete throughout the community as possible, we don’t want people to be afraid to come speak to us,” said Cheseboro.
The unit is scheduled to be on the streets Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. until February.
It is an initiative officials are hoping will one day become a permanent fixture.
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