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How Intermountain Healthcare is helping Utah's homeless battle COVID-19

Posted at 8:56 AM, Apr 30, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-30 13:43:18-04

Intermountain Healthcare is reaching out to one of the state’s most vulnerable populations during the COVID-19 pandemic --- those experiencing homelessness.

This comprehensive approach includes increased testing, coordinating with local and community partners, and helping the safety of the vulnerable population.

“We are all trying to adjust to our ‘new normal’ with COVID-19. This virus is adding layers of difficulty to the challenges those experiencing homelessness already face,” said Intermountain Healthcare Community Health director. “I am grateful for the many organizations, leaders, caregivers, and volunteers who have come together to support the health and well-being of some of our most vulnerable community members.”

Intermountain is taking a multi-pronged approach to support homeless individuals focusing on providing resources, testing, and comfort to the vulnerable communities that need it. This includes:

  • Mobile Unit for COVID-19 Testing. Intermountain is sending a mobile unit to local area homeless resource centers to support COVID-19 testing. This helps increase access for underserved populations and while maintaining the stay home, stay safe message. The mobile unit will also be used in hotspot areas of increased COVID-19 positive tests and where increased testing is needed.
  • County Health Department Coordination. Intermountain is coordinating with multiple county health departments to ensure transition of homeless individuals to community isolation and quarantine as needed. This helps provide consistent care delivery and increases availability of care for the most vulnerable among us.
  • Medications. Intermountain is providing 14 days of medication for homeless patients after they are discharged from its hospitals. This will ensure they have the medications needed as they transition to community care. It also limits the number of times they need to visit a hospital or pharmacy.
  • Equipment and Staffing Support for Community Partners. Intermountain caregivers and community partners are deploying to support healthcare services for the homeless. This includes providing registered nurses and medical assistants to work with the 4th Street Clinic’s mobile clinic as it serves local homeless resource centers. Intermountain is also providing telehealth equipment for the 4th Street Clinic.
  • Hospital Stays and Meals While Processing Tests. People without housing need to have an isolated area while waiting for their COVID-19 test results to process. Intermountain will provide hospital waits to our non-housed patients, when they cannot be discharged to a quarantined or isolated area while awaiting results. Intermountain will also have its nutrition services teams prepare free meals while they wait for test results in our facilities – which can take 24-72 hours to be processed.

All services are being provided without cost as part of Intermountain’s community stewardship.