Helping the Homeless 

Two organizations cut the ribbon last week on a new health clinic in Midtown that is solely for Memphis' homeless population.

The Baptist Operation Outreach Clinic, located inside the Catholic Charities of West Tennessee (CCWTN) building on Jefferson, is spearheaded by Baptist Memorial Health Care in partnership with Christ Community Health Services (CCHS). The new clinic is meant to work in tandem with the organizations' existing mobile outreach clinic for the homeless, which was established in 2004.

Since then, the mobile clinic has treated patients around the city by traveling to various locations with high homeless populations, like near the Memphis and Shelby County Office of Re-Entry in Midtown. In 2018 alone, the clinic had more than 3,000 patient encounters — up from 500 during its first year.

click to enlarge Officials: the clinic is likely - the first of its kind here. - COMMUNITY ALLIANCE FOR THE HOMELESS/FACEBOOK
  • Community Alliance for the Homeless/Facebook
  • Officials: the clinic is likely the first of its kind here.

Jason Little, president and CEO of Baptist, said since 2004, the goal has been to establish better ways to provide health care to the city's homeless population, which he said is an important part of the organization's mission.

"When we started the mobile clinic in 2004, our goal was to find a better way to care for the health needs of the homeless and uninsured in our community," Little said. "Through our partnership with CCHS, we've been able to make significant gains in caring for Memphis' homeless population and helped many transition out of homelessness to healthier and more stable situations."

Now, the new brick and mortar clinic, equipped with a lab, two exam rooms, a waiting area, and office space, will provide free health, dental, and vision care Tuesday through Thursday to those without permanent housing.

Kimberly Alexander, public relations manager for Baptist, said the clinic will offer total primary health care services, including immunizations and other preventative care, treatment of minor injuries, behaviour health services, screening and diagnostics of medical issues, as well as treatment and management for certain conditions like hypertension and diabetes.

For example, Alexander said patients diagnosed with diabetes are given medication, a machine to check their blood sugar, and educational materials.

Alexander said patients receive free prescriptions for any medication they require — with the exception of narcotics. For services the clinic can't provide, like x-rays, child immunizations, or specialty care, patients will be referred to a specialist or other provider.

In addition to medical care, the clinic's location will enable patients to easily access housing, food, clothing, and other support services through the CCWTN.

Alexander said the new clinic is likely the first of its kind in Memphis.

"As far as we're aware, it's the first clinic that provides this extent of services in one location — access to health care and dental, vision, and mammography services, plus a wide range of enabling services."

Those experiencing homelessness in Shelby County on one particular night of the year decreased from 2012 to 2018, based on the city/county 2018 Point-in-Time report. The report found that there were 1,226 homeless individuals here on the night of January 23rd last year, which was a 41 percent drop from the same night in 2012.

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