Mercy Medical Center Receives State Grant to Expand Homeless Services

SPRINGFIELD — The Healthcare for the Homeless (HCH) program at Mercy Medical Center will partner with Catholic Charities of Springfield to provide additional services to homeless individuals impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, thanks to a grant from the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development.

As the primary recipient of the $795,000 Emergency Solutions Grant, Catholic Charities will work with HCH to oversee expanded street outreach and provide emergency shelter to chronically homeless individuals to stop or slow the spread of the virus. Specifically, the grant will fund essential services such as case management, employment assistance and job training, life-skills training, mental-health services, and substance-abuse treatment services, as well as hotel and motel vouchers.

Mercy’s HCH team follows a nursing model of healthcare, providing assessment, intervention, referrals, follow-up, and education to the homeless. As a partner with Catholic Charities, HCH will receive $260,000 in grant funding to enhance outreach efforts and specifically address ‘rough sleepers’ during this COVID and post-COVID period. Under the HCH portion of the grant, a team consisting of a registered nurse, a community health worker, and a psychiatrist (for telemedicine services), will provide outreach services to individuals who are not utilizing congregate living situations, especially focusing on the communities of Springfield, Holyoke, Westfield, and Chicopee. Basic primary-care and behavioral-health services will also be offered through the HCH program.

Over the course of the Emergency Solutions Grant, which runs through June 2021, Catholic Charities and HCH will assist at least 25 individuals or families with hotel or motel shelter, accompanying stability services, and case management. Once a client has been identified and referred for hotel or motel sheltering, Catholic Charities and Mercy’s HCH team will provide ongoing services to ensure a successful outcome.

“The hotel and motel placement provided by this grant will afford the homeless a shelter safe from unprotected contact with others, potentially limiting the spread of COVID-19. However, if infection is suspected or confirmed, it provides a place where clients can self-quarantine and receive essential services while being regularly monitored for worsening symptoms,” said Cherelle Rozie, director of Community Health and Well Being at Mercy Medical Center. “At the same time, these clients will benefit from health assessments, regular communication and assistance from a case worker, and access to general medical care.”

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