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Mobile outreach helps high risk population connect to physical, mental health supports


Listowel–Residents who have difficulty connecting to physical and mental health supports have a monthly resource to help them find the support they need. All people need to do is walk up to the ambulance parked in the Pharmasave parking lot on the last Monday afternoon of every month to make the connection.

Carrie Hurst, manager of patient care at Listowel Memorial Hospital, shared an update on the Listowel Wingham Hospitals Alliance's (LWHA) roles in the program. She said it is a partnership with the Huron Perth Healthcare Alliance (HPHA) Mental Health Crisis Outreach Team.

"The program is led by a nurse practitioner partnering with EMS and other supports,'' she said. "They are a mobile team that is moving around Perth County to service the vulnerable populations and those that don't have access to a family physician.''

Hurst said the program's focus includes getting physical and mental health care support to the homeless population and other under-resourced community members, such as those without a family physician.

She also mentioned that people whose access to much-needed resources has been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic will receive help to connect with the help they need.

"The team can support visits similar to any primary care, so any family doctor visits, for physical health or mental health,'' said Hurst. "Anything you would see your family doctor for is their focus. You can come to their mobile ambulance and have an appointment.''

Listowel Memorial Hospital has collaborated to offer referrals to these patients to link with an outpatient social worker for things such as:

  • system navigation for social supports or mental health and addiction supports;
  • income supports;
  • support with filling out forms and getting workplace forms completed;
  • securing work; and
  • temporary counselling services until permanent counselling is arranged.

The program will be hosted in an ambulance parked in the Pharmasave parking lot at 130 Argyle Ave. N. the last Monday of every month from 1 to 3 p.m.

She pointed out it is a very convenient location because it is right behind It Takes a Village, so people who make use of the resources there will be familiar with the area.

"Our outpatient social worker, her main focus is patients with no family physician in town and all of that system navigation?social supports, mental health and addiction supports, income supports, support with filling out forms and getting workplace forms completed, securing work,'' said Hurst.

The nurse practitioner who is leading the program has referral forms for the outpatient social worker.

"Then our outpatient social worker will connect with them via telephone as long as they have a phone number we can contact them,'' she said.

"Typically we try to get a phone number where they can be reached at or we can leave a message.''

When it comes to the homeless population living unsheltered, Hurst acknowledged that sometimes they don't have cell phones.

"Alternatively, they could call the hospital if they can go somewhere where they have access to a phone and we could make that connection,'' said Hurst. "It's hard to set up an appointment that way but we haven't gone to the point yet that (the outpatient social worker takes) walk-in appointments but it is definitely something that our outpatient social worker has considered?there might be more to come once we build the program a little bit more but right now hopefully they could provide the phone number where we could contact them.''

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