PORTLAND — Driving along Cumberland Avenue, doing outreach to the city’s homeless residents, Courtney Woods said she would welcome a nurse practitioner’s help.
“There are a lot of things people don’t want to go to the hospital for,” Woods said.
By July 1, there will be a health-care professional along for the ride as the Milestone Foundation and Greater Portland Health begin a new collaboration, funded in part by the city, that will expand the services available from what is called the HOME Team.
“As great as the (HOME Team) staff is, they are not RNs or social workers,” Joe McNally, Milestone director of community outreach, said April 7.
An acronym for Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement, the HOME Team was established in 2010 as a collaboration between Milestone, the city, Preble Street, the Opportunity Alliance and the University of New England School of Social Work.
One of the organization’s goals is diversion, helping people steer clear of emergency rooms or police custody.
“We are not only saving folks on the front end, we are hooking them up with services that can make them stable,” McNally said.
Renee Fay-LeBlanc, Greater Portland Health chief medical officer, said April 5 the nonprofit expects to have staff ride along for two hours about three times a week.
Last year, the HOME Team logged more than 13,000 encounters with more than 10,000 people in Bayside. Woods said an encounter is essentially a conversation.
“If nothing else, you are a consistent face they can rely on,” she said.
In 2016, the HOME Team was dispatched