In an effort to bridge the gap between the homeless community and healthcare professionals, Florida State University (FSU) has launched a student-run initiative called the Homeless Outreach Medicine and Education (HOME) program. With the aim of providing potentially life-saving medical care, the program has made a positive impact on Tallahassee’s homeless population.
While the government offers basic necessities such as food, water, toiletries, and shelter to unhoused individuals, their basic medical needs often go unmet. The HOME program seeks to change that by offering essential healthcare services to those in need.
Led by Samantha Mankus, the president of HOME and a physician assistant (PA) student at FSU, the program focuses on building a positive relationship between healthcare providers and the unhoused community. Mankus emphasizes the importance of ensuring that unhoused patients feel comfortable seeking the care they require.
Once a week, a small group of three to five students, along with a social worker and licensed medical professional, visit one of Tallahassee’s homeless encampments. The social worker arrives first to explain the purpose of their visit and identify individuals who require assistance.
Upon arrival, the students and medical professional begin by measuring vitals like blood pressure, pulse, and respiratory rate. They then address any health concerns the individuals may have, providing advice and recommendations for further care. The program also helps coordinate clinic visits and prescriptions when necessary, while also providing basic medical supplies.
Since its establishment last year, the HOME program has operated under the Student Academy of the American Academy of Physician Assistants at FSU. With over 120 PA students participating in the program, there is a lottery to determine which students join each visit. However, the program aims to expand its outreach to accommodate more students in the future.
Allison Justice, HOME’s faculty advisor and an assistant professor at FSU’s College of Medicine, highlights the rewarding experience the program offers to both students and healthcare providers. The program not only fulfills the mission statement of FSU College of Medicine but also serves an underserved community that often lacks access to healthcare.
Despite the absence of funding from FSU directly, the HOME program has received grants, monetary donations, and supplies to support its operations. This external support demonstrates the importance of the program and the community’s recognition of its significance.
By addressing the needs of the homeless population, FSU’s HOME program is making a difference in the lives of individuals who often face judgment and stigma when seeking medical care. Through empathy and compassion, the program is building stronger relationships and striving to ensure that everyone has access to the healthcare they deserve.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
1. How does the HOME program benefit the homeless population in Tallahassee?
The HOME program provides essential medical care and bridges the gap between the homeless community and healthcare professionals. It offers potentially life-saving interventions, addresses health concerns, and facilitates access to further care when needed.
2. How does the program work?
A small group of PA students, accompanied by a social worker and licensed medical professional, visits homeless encampments in Tallahassee once a week. They measure vitals, address health concerns, provide medical advice, and assist with clinic visits and prescriptions.
3. How is the program funded?
The HOME program receives funding through grants, monetary donations, and supplies. Although it is not directly funded by Florida State University, the program has garnered support from various sources that recognize its importance.
4. Who can participate in the HOME program?
The program is primarily designed for PA students at Florida State University. However, due to the limited group size, participation is determined through a lottery system. Future plans include expanding the program to involve more students.
5. How does the program aim to create a positive relationship between healthcare providers and the homeless community?
The program emphasizes the importance of making unhoused patients feel comfortable seeking medical care. By offering empathy, compassion, and personalized attention, the HOME program strives to break down barriers and eliminate stigmas associated with seeking healthcare for the homeless population in Tallahassee.