Heartland Alliance Health (HAH) is dedicated to serving those most often overlooked in the healthcare system. Not only do we care for these people – low-income individuals and families, individuals experiencing homelessness, or facing substance use disorders – we seek them out to offer our support. This approach is woven throughout our philosophy of care.
We began providing health, dental, and nutritional services at the height of the AIDS epidemic. Since then, we have provided thousands of connections to healthcare partners and providers. Sarah Dickson (pictured at right), who is the organization’s traveling nurse practitioner, understands the impact of the connections made.
“Outreach is probably the most important part of our job. It’s where participant engagement begins, in the space that is comfortable to the person we are trying to serve. It’s where people begin to trust, and where they begin to heal.”
With two long-running facilities on Chicago’s North and West sides, HAH has been able to provide a safe and welcoming space for individuals seeking a healthcare professional who practices without judgment or bias. The organization is expanding access for participants by opening a new healthcare center on the South Side on March 20. And throughout the center’s development, Sarah has been dedicated to providing services for individuals in communities like Englewood, Garfield Park, and Bronzeville. Stopping by shelters like Matthew House and Teen Living Programs, Sarah is able to bring healthcare to the people – giving those without a stable home or healthcare practitioner some relief and a chance to heal.
“There is a fair number of cold and allergy complaints however, there are some very diverse and complex medical problems. Many individuals are managing an insulin regimen for their diabetes. I see a lot of arthritis and pain complaints, especially with people who have to travel from site to site every day.”
The outreach Sarah provides can be a life-changing experience. The initial connection oftentimes develops into a long-running relationship between the participant and HAH that enables the organization to also provide housing, employment, and supportive services. However, it easier to maintain consistent care when there’s a permanent location for services.
“It can be tough to coordinate with the outreach facility and the participant. It’s hard to schedule things properly when someone doesn’t have the stability of a home – or the stability of a brick and mortar healthcare center. It’s a challenge to create a consistent presence so that participants can plan on being seen for follow up.”
But that is all about to change. This month, Heartland Alliance Health is proud to be opening its Englewood Healthcare Center, where we will house a full staff of medical practitioners – from doctors and nurses, to clinical counselors and pharmacists. Finally, Sarah will have a nearby location to send individuals after their initial connections.
“This center is a needed resource in the community. With several facilities and pharmacies shutting down in the neighborhood, we’ll be able to provide a huge benefit to the south side.”