MMC joins with Preble Street to provide health care for homeless

Maine Medical Center and Preble Street have joined forces to ensure the most vulnerable underserved people in Portland have access to quality, barrier-free health care.

The MMC-Preble Street Learning Collaborative seeks to help fill the void left by the closing of the City of Portland Healthcare for the Homeless Clinic in 2014, provide no-barrier access to health services, care-coordination and education and create a new point of entry to the health system, the organizations stated in their announcement on Friday.

Working together, Preble Street and MMC hope to improve the quality of care and client access to existing providers and established medical homes, improve medical residents’ understanding and education of the needs and care of homeless and other vulnerable patients, and increase understanding of health disparities.

“Together we can fill gaps in the health care system that in the past have left far too many of the people we serve without medical treatment,” said Mark Swann, Preble Street executive director.

“People are so very vulnerable on the streets and in shelters. And doing anti-poverty work these days is more challenging than ever before. Putting together this new program with such a highly respected institution is the best news we’ve had in some time.”

Full array of health services

Located onsite at Preble Street, the collaborative will be staffed by Bill Burns, former Preble Street Resource Center coordinator, in a new role as Preble Street health services director, as well as by an MMC nurse practitioner, primary care residents, medical students from the MMC Maine Track program, nursing, pharmacy and social-work students.

The staffing also includes MMC’s Homeless Health Partners case management team, full-time medical social workers from MMC who have been embedded at Preble Street since early 2015, providing clients with short-term, targeted case management to assist in accessing primary care, behavioral health services, and specialty medical services.

“The Maine Medical Center-Preble Street Learning Collaborative combines the best of our two organization’s capabilities in order to meet the unique needs of an underserved population in an effective and sustainable way,” said Dr. Peter Bates, chief academic officer at Maine Medical Center.

With 14 programs throughout the state of Maine, Preble Street provides round-the-clock programs 365 days a year to meet urgent needs, advocate for change, empower people and create solutions for homelessness, hunger and poverty.