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New Program to Bring New Care to Portland's Homeless

May 22, 2017

The Forecaster recently published an article about the upcoming collaborative program between Greater Portland Health and Milestone.

PORTLAND — Bridget Rauscher, the city’s Substance Use Prevention Program coordinator, is stepping into new territory.

“We are building the plane as we fly,” she said May 11 as she described a new collaboration where city paramedics are riding with the Milestone Foundation’s Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement, or HOME Team, and then spending time at the Oxford Street Shelter.

Under the direction of the Fire Department’s medical director, Dr. Matthew Scholl, the program allows paramedics to build trust, better diagnose which medical conditions are emergencies, and give shelter staff a better base knowledge of what clients are dealing with.

“Not everyone at the shelter is an alcoholic or drug user; we have a lot of people living in the street with cancer and diabetes,” Fire Chief David Jackson said May 11. “If we help someone whose blood sugar is low, it is an easy fix without going to the ER.”

The program may lead to cost savings by reducing trips to emergency rooms, but that is not the primary focus, Rauscher and Jackson said.

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