Mount Carmel is unique among central Ohio healthcare providers in that a major part of its mission is to serve the underserved. That mission is never more fully realized than through the Street Medicine program.

A component of Mount Carmel’s award-winning Mobile Coach program, Street Medicine serves “the most vulnerable of the most vulnerable” — the hundreds of area residents “living on the land” under trees and overpasses and in tent communities scattered throughout the city.

The Street Medicine team, which includes a Mount Carmel physician or nurse practitioner, chaplain, EMT and homeless advocate, visits homeless camps each week. The team offers free medical care, education, assistance with housing options and referrals to continuing care providers, mental health services and community resources providing both immediate and long-term intervention. That effort brings physical, mental and spiritual treatment to those in desperate need while also closing a care gap that couldn’t otherwise be filled.

With so many barriers to healthcare, including mental illness, lack of transportation and financial resources, many homeless residents don’t seek medical attention until a situation escalates and requires emergency care or hospitalization. By reaching these patients where they are, the Street Medicine team is able to treat symptoms before they become more serious and provide that care at a much lower cost to the community.

The Mount Carmel Foundation is the program’s primary funder and the main reason that the nearly 200 people Street Medicine served last year are not out of mind, even if they may be out of sight.

This article was originally published in the 2014 Annual Report to the Community.