When Tamara Stewart thought she was exposed to COVID-19, she didn’t know what to do. She was uninsured and needed help. Looking for an affordable way to get tested and treated, she turned to Outreach Community Health Centers.
“I was so happy to find a free service,” she says. “The process was worry free, fast and friendly, a few less things to think about during this pandemic.”
In a time when many people can slip through the health care cracks – the poor, the uninsured, the homeless – Outreach Community Health Centers’ No. 1 goal is to reach those groups.
“We’re well positioned to serve the uninsured or under-insured,” says Dr. Angela C. Sanders, the organization’s chief clinical officer and a licensed psychologist. “Part of our mission is also to treat the whole person.”
This means that their services don’t necessarily stop with a checkup or a counseling session – they might help a client fill out a housing application or provide them with essential goods for a new apartment, like washcloths, bedding or dish soap. During the late-evening hours, street outreach teams hand out hygiene kits to the city’s homeless and connect them with services they may need, including physical and behavioral health.
The need has been so great in recent years that planning has begun on the construction of a new service center at Outreach’s Capitol Drive campus.
During COVID, like many aid-minded organizations, there have been noticeable financial strains. This increased cost is expected to continue into the foreseeable future with more and more clients lacking health care after a job loss.
Financial donations help fund a client’s needs outside of medical care – like a winter coat or school supplies for their children. “One client lacked transportation, and we provided him with bus tickets,” says Sanders. “A lot of times, people have significant barriers to access the care.”