There is always a waiting line when the Dallas mobile medical clinic, known locally as the Homeless Outreach Medical Services program (HOMES), arrives to provide much-needed services to the most medically underserved population in Dallas County. As part of Parkland Medical Center’s community outreach efforts, four mobile medical and one mobile dental clinic are on the road providing a medical home to the community’s neediest each week.
CHANGING FACE OF HOMELESSNESS
In Dallas County, the face of homelessness has changed. Shelters are no longer only filled with single adults who have lived on the streets for years looking for a warm bed at night. Today, there are more women and children in Dallas shelters than ever before…some after losing jobs and homes, others dealing with personal crises.
“The failing economy has had a huge impact on local families. It doesn’t take much to move a person already living in poverty into homelessness,” says Dr. Susan Spalding, medical director for the project. “As the shelters fill, we are there to address and serve the different needs of all of the residents. We can also connect them to specialty services when needed.”
SO MANY CHALLENGES
Children and families in Dallas often lack insurance and transportation, which are often complicated by language and cultural barriers. Mental health and dental services are particularly difficult for Spanish speakers to access. Children and adolescents often face developmental delay or school failure; poor reading levels; family dysfunction such as domestic violence, child abuse and neglect, nutritional problems such as anemia and obesity; and minor acute illnesses.
Preventive medicine is at the core of the services that the project offers. By providing comprehensive primary care, the medical team works to prevent and manage more acute conditions from developing and minimizing unnecessary and costly trips to the Emergency Room for care.