In a few months, the more than 150 homeless people who visit the Jericho Way day resource center every day in Little Rock will have access to on-site medical care.
Little Rock Mayor Mark Stodola signed a lease agreement last week with Jefferson Comprehensive Care System for about 1,350 square feet of basement space at the center at 3000 Springer Blvd.
Jefferson Comprehensive Care System plans to spend about $200,000 to renovate the space and put in a doctor's office for the homeless clients that visit Jericho Way. The targeted opening day is Sept. 1.
The company will move its homeless-care clinic, currently operating as Open Hands on Martin Luther King Drive, to Jericho Way. Its full-time nurse practitioner and a support staff that includes a registered nurse, medical assistant and front desk attendant will relocate to the new office.
Jericho Way director Mandy Davis said this will improve greatly the quality of lives of those who visit the center.
"Currently, we use the two city vans to transport our guests who are seeking medical attention to local clinics. Some of our guests won't go in fear of missing a meal or transportation to the shelter, and so they continue to medically suffer," Davis said. "Having an on-site medical clinic will free up critical transportation for others and increase the likelihood of our guests getting the much-needed medical attention and medication that they often desperately need. We are very excited."
The move has been years in the making, the mayor and Jefferson Chief Executive Officer Sandra Brown said.
The clinic will have two to three examination rooms, a laboratory where X-rays can be done and a waiting area. It will have its own entrance. The starting hours will be the same as the current clinic, but they could change depending on need. Hours are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays and 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesdays through Fridays.
The clinic will serve as a primary care facility that provides family medical care, immunizations, women's health, cancer screenings, diagnostics, preventive care, case management, and referrals for radiology and substance abuse. It also will have a medication assistance program and prescribe medicine.
"The intent was always to be where the patients are," Brown said. "Well, the patients have moved. This will be a more convenient location, and we can better reach the targeted audience we are supposed to be serving."
Davis said the number of people age 65 and older who are homeless is increasing. She hopes the clinic can help address the medical needs of that group.
"We predict this will cut down on the number of emergency calls to the center, as well," Davis said. "If folks have access to an on-site clinic, we hope they'll go there before calling 911 over a nonemergency issue. They're making tough decisions all day and prioritizing meeting their daily, basic needs. We hope this eases the burden. They won't have to skip a meal to get medical attention -- they can get both."
Jefferson Comprehensive Care System has a sliding scale for fees based on the federal poverty level. Co-pays are waived for the homeless, but the clinic will bill insurance if the clients have any.
Stodola said he's been working toward getting a medical facility at Jericho Way for the past three years.
"There is a tremendous need," he said. "Between the issues of drug and alcohol addiction and the mental-health issues, and just the normal wear and tear the homeless have by virtue of being homeless and living in the elements. They are prone to illness at a much higher degree than the normal public is.
"This is going to be a great opportunity to serve those that are less fortunate," he said. "We see over 150 people a day there for various services and meals. I suspect the clinic is going to have a full plate immediately once they get open."
The mayor also has secured private funding to build two duplexes on land near Jericho Way to start a housing project for the homeless. Property still has to be secured, and there's no timeline on when that project might start, Stodola said.
Jericho Way offers showers, meals, a place to store belongings and make calls, and case management. The Arkansas Department of Workforce Services hosts sessions on job- and skills-training opportunities.
Metro on 05/20/2018