The Learning Collaborative

The MMC-Preble Street Learning Collaborative ensures the most vulnerable underserved people in Portland have access to quality, barrier-free healthcare.

A partnership between Preble Street and Maine Medical Center (MMC), the Learning Collaborative addresses unmet healthcare needs of homeless populations, providing clients with short-term, targeted case management to assist in accessing primary care, behavioral health services, and referrals to specialists.

Stories from the LC

Rob, a double amputee whose prostheses were painful and didn’t fit right, is now able to get care in the neighborhood when he needs it while waiting for his new devices.

Andy, who has a substance use disorder, was reluctant to seek treatment for an infected chest wound. When he began talking with Learning Collaborative staff about his drug use, a window opened, and he enrolled in a treatment program.

Operating from offices at Preble Street, the Learning Collaborative is staffed by a Preble Street Health Services Director, an MMC nurse practitioner, primary care residents, medical students from the MMC/Tufts Medical School Maine Track program, nursing, pharmacy, and social work students. The Learning Collaborative was developed to:

  • improve the quality of care and client access to existing providers and established medical homes
  • advance medical residents’ understanding and education of the needs and care of homeless and other vulnerable patients
  • increase understanding of health disparities

Based on needs identified by Preble Street and MMC Homeless Health Partners, the Learning Collaborative addresses systemic issues and closes gaps in services to the city’s most vulnerable individuals, including:

  • access to walk-in care
  • mental health services
  • triage, urgent, and follow-up care
  • wound-care
  • substance abuse treatment

“Our goal is to create positive healthcare experiences for everyone who walks through the door,” says Preble Street executive director Mark Swann. “We believe if we give people a taste of dignity, it will grow into an appetite for self-care. It’s not just removing barriers to care, it’s deconstructing them.”