Hamilton Community Health Network’s new clinic in Flint is a testament to the nonprofit’s commitment to caring for local residents in need, a mission that began when its first clinic opened more than 35 years ago.
Today, the health network cares for underserved residents of Flint and surrounding areas through its seven clinics in Genesee and Lapeer counties, including the new Hamilton-Flint Health Clinic at the Sr. Claudia Burke Center for Hope, 812 Root St., near downtown Flint.
The clinic, which opened in August 2018, occupies the top, front floor of the Sr. Claudia Burke Center for Hope operated by Catholic Charities of Shiawassee and Genesee Counties. It features an on-site lab and is fully staffed five days a week. A family nurse practitioner, recovery coach and social worker/RN are among the professionals on hand to see patients; the clinic primarily serves individuals through Hamilton’s homeless outreach program.
In addition, the Flint clinic plans to offer a new Medication-Assisted Treatment Program to the city’s chronically homeless population, many of whom already access Catholic Charities’ services such as the laundry and shower facilities, as well as the daily soup kitchen, food/personal item pantries and a clothing closet.
Hamilton Community Health Network—a federal Qualified Health Center—provides primary medical, dental and vision care to the underserved within the greater Flint community. Its flagship facility, the Main Health Clinic at 2900 Saginaw St., offers a full range of primary care services including a new Women’s Breast Care Clinic. Additionally, the organization has a three-year osteopathic family medicine residency program and dental residency program.
Working with Hamilton enrollment specialists, patients can get help with identifying health insurance options and filling out and filing insurance applications. The network accepts most insurance, including Medicare and Medicaid. There is a sliding scale for those who are uninsured or underinsured.
COLLABORATING TO HELP HOMELESS
The collaboration between Hamilton Health and Catholic Charities at the Center for Hope brings together services each already provides to the homeless community. The center is housed in the former St. Michael’s Catholic School, which recently underwent a $6-million renovation.
It was a win-win situation for both organizations.
“This was a great opportunity to partner with Catholic Charities,” said Hamilton CEO Clarence Pierce, as he looked around the new clinic facilities at the Center for Hope. “Catholic Charities is already doing outreach with the homeless with its soup kitchen and other programs.”
Enhancing socio-economic and health-care options for homeless individuals is the goal of Hamilton and Catholic Charities. Neither organization wants to duplicate services.
“This is my definition of collaboration,” added Vicky Schultz, president and CEO of CCSGC.
Catholic Charities will continue to offer its behavioral health services and its assortment of ministries to the homeless, including the Winter Warming Center located in the basement of the Center for Hope, while Hamilton will carry on with its homeless outreach services of medical screenings, TB screenings, prescription assistance, substance abuse counseling, and medical and social service referrals.
FIGHTING AN EPIDEMIC
The Hamilton-Flint Health Clinic will also be the site of its new Medication- Assisted Treatment Program, designed to help with the area’s opioid epidemic.
In 2015, the last year for which numbers are fully available, 1,275 people died from opioid- and heroin-related overdoses in Michigan, according to the state Department of Health and Human Services.
Of those deaths, 884 were directly attributed to opioid overdose, the seventh highest number of opioid deaths among the nation’s 50 states. The crisis reflects almost a 100% increase over the number of overdose deaths just five years before.
Hamilton Community Health Network received a two-year, $350,000 grant from Michigan Primary Care Association in collaboration with Michigan Department of Health and Human Services to help combat the opioid crisis by providing medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse patients, Pierce said.
Hamilton has an ongoing $100,000 grant from the federal Health Resources and Services Administration to provide health care to the homeless, Pierce added.
“It just made good sense to expand services to the homeless population here at the center,” said Patty Wagenhofer- Rucker, director of Integrated Services at HCHN, adding that the Hamilton- Flint Clinic staff will work as a team with homeless individuals and will make referrals if additional medical services are needed.
“This is a population that may not be comfortable seeking medical help and here at the clinic, we can easily refer patients to our flagship location at the Main Clinic,” Wagenhofer-Rucker said. “One in 10 people are actively using and abusing substances. We want to engage them in treatment to try and lessen those numbers.”