The adage “it takes a village” has been applied to a lot of different efforts over the years. However, when it comes to ending homelessness among Veterans by 2015, there is probably no better description for what is needed and what is being done at the Providence VA Medical Center.
On November 19, 2012, Senator Jack Reed and Senator Sheldon Whitehouse joined the Providence VA Medical Center as it opened its new Homeless PACT (Patient-Aligned Care Team) Clinic. The Clinic has recently moved into a newly-renovated, free-standing facility on campus that includes primary care, showers, food, laundry facilities, a clothes pantry, a computer lab, classroom space, benefits assistance, and integrated staffing. The Clinic offers wrap-around services all in one setting with one goal in mind: to meet the comprehensive needs of homeless Veterans.
“The goal of the Homeless Patient Aligned Care Team,” says Vincent Ng, Providence VA Medical Center Director, “is to create a collaborative treatment model for homeless Veterans who have difficulty accessing care and engaging in VA services.” The Homeless PACT model:
• Places and organizes care in settings that enhance access for homeless Veterans so they can be engaged in clinical care earlier in their homelessness, before complications arise
• Provides wrap-around and comprehensive medical, mental health, case management, and social services in one setting
• Tailors care to specific medical, mental health, and homeless service needs of homeless Veterans
The Providence VA Medical Center has a long history of providing high quality healthcare and services to homeless Veterans. Beginning in 2006, the Medical Center developed a homeless-oriented Primary Care Clinic to provide integrated care to homeless Veterans. Evaluation of the program showed participants had improved health outcomes as well as a 30% reduction in emergency department use and a 50% reduction in inpatient days. “Building on these successful results,” says Dr. Thomas O’Toole, now VA’s Homeless PACT National Director and formerly the Chief of Primary Care at the Providence VA Medical Center, “the Providence VA Medical Center became the model for the Homeless PACT, which has now spread to most areas of the country.”
Senators Reed and Whitehouse, along with Dr. Michael Fine, Director of the Rhode Island Department of Health, joined Director Ng in recognizing the exceptional teamwork that’s gone into the program’s success over the years; specifically:
• Dr. Tom O’Toole and his staff for their tireless support, commitment, and dedication to our Veterans; they are truly making a difference in the lives of our Veterans
• Dr. Bill Carr and his staff in our Health Care for Homeless Veterans Program for their advocacy and outreach to increase awareness of VA homeless programs and services such as our Grant and Per Diem Program and our HUD/VASH Program
• Earl Hutchinson and the Providence VA Regional Office as well as our Vet Center teams who each and every day are making sure our Veterans and their family members are getting the benefits and services they have rightfully earned
• All our partners in the local community for their support and commitment to our Veterans—together, we getting closer to achieving Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki’s goal of eliminating Veteran homelessness by 2015.
OEF Veteran Jason Fencik was one of the guest speakers for the event. “If we can stay healthy and get healthy,” he said, “which is the main thing, and we can get some housing…that is what can get us back in the community, for us to be citizens again, and to be contributing member of society. That’s really what it is, but without programs like this, it wouldn’t be possible.”
To date, over 600 homeless Veterans have been enrolled in the Providence VAMC’s Homeless PACT. The new Clinic is located in Trailer 37, is open 5 days a week (Monday-Friday), and includes staff from the VA homeless programs to include Health Care for Homeless Veterans outreach, the Supportive Housing initiative (HUD VASH), Primary Care, and the Providence VA Regional Office.
View photos from the ribbon cut.
For more information about the Homeless PACT or the Providence VAMC, please contact Tom Antonaccio, Public Affairs Officer, at (401) 457-3369 or visit www.providence.va.gov