A Healthy Society for All of Us
Loretta has come a long way from her time on the streets and in shelters. She resides at Project HOME’s Rowan Homes, is a community health worker for our St. Elizabeth’s health clinic, and interns at our HOME Spun Resale Boutique. She is also a certified peer specialist who has intensively trained to work with other residents to make positive steps in their lives.
But Loretta lives in a health care trap: With minimal work hours, she can’t afford health insurance through the marketplace, and does not qualify for Medicaid. Without the subsidy from Medicaid expansion (because Pennsylvania has not accepted the program), she would have to pay more than 25 percent of her income on health care, and struggle more to afford the necessary basics of food and clothing. Nearing her fifties, she has diabetes, hypertension, and asthma.She is fortunate to receive health care services from the St. Elizabeth’s clinic,but is uncertain about and scared for her future.
On a daily basis, we accompany people like Loretta who have these treatable conditions and,especially for those we cannot serve through our clinic, we watch them deteriorate, knowing full well they can improve their quality and length of life with affordable coverage and regular access to health care.
Health care has been one of the building blocks of Project HOME for the past quarter century. We have long recognized that one of the leading contributing factors to homelessness and poverty is the lack of access to quality health care.
Just in the last year, we have made two major advances in our delivery of health care. First, we are strengthening our case management for residents with histories of mental illness with the new Personal Recovery Services (PRS, also called“Psychiatric Rehabilitation Services”) program. PRS works through a mobile team that helps individuals identify goals, learn and practice skills, and build supports. PRS is person-centered,strength-based, and aimed at empowering individuals to accomplish their self-identified goals.
Second, Project HOME was recently approved to become a Federally Qualified Health Center(FQHC). The FQHC designation allows us to expand and improve our health care services to individuals and families who are currently homeless,our residents, and low-income neighbors.
Meanwhile, on January 29, we marked another milestone in our history: We broke ground for the long-planned Stephen Klein Wellness Center,a 30,000-square-foot health and wellness center located at 21st Street and Cecil B. Moore Avenue, in the second-poorest zip code in Philadelphia,with high incidences of chronic illnesses, including obesity, asthma, and diabetes. A unique partnership of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Jefferson University Hospitals, Jefferson Medical College Department of Family and Community Medicine, the Philadelphia Freedom Valley YMCA, Stephen Klein, Elizabeth Moran,and John and Leigh Middleton, the Wellness Center will expand Project HOME’s primary care, behavioral health, and health education services and offer critical new services to homeless and low-income residents – including dental care,physical therapy, a pharmacy, and a fitness facility complete with childcare managed by the YMCA.
The Stephen Klein Wellness Center, named for the lead funder of the project, is a critical next step in our mission to end and heal from homelessness in Philadelphia. It grows out of two decades of an invaluable partnership with Jefferson Family and Community Medicine which has played a key role in stabilizing the lives of people-experiencing homelessness and poverty.
We are grateful for the financial support of Governor Tom Corbett and the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for helping to make the Center a reality.We are grateful for all of you who have partnered with us and supported us in our efforts to foster health and wellness for many of our most vulnerable citizens. And we thank you for sharing the vision that when all our citizens have access to quality health care, we as a society are healthier. With your help, we will continue to provide quality healthcare services to our residents and neighbors, and we will also continue to advocate for just public policies that foster a health community for all of us.