Millions Awarded to Kern Health Systems to Address Homelessness in Kern County

January 30, 2023
1 min read

State Department of Health Care Services incentivized organizations across Kern County with millions of dollars to aid the homeless population. Among the recipients, Kern Health Systems, the governing body of Kern Family Health Care, was awarded over $19 million.

The CEO of the agency, Emily Duran, announced that they have a comprehensive plan in motion to tackle homelessness in Kern County, which includes innovative approaches such as street medicine. Duran acknowledged the difficulties faced by the homeless in accessing traditional healthcare and emphasized the importance of meeting their needs in a compassionate and accessible manner.

The CEO of Kern Health Systems, Emily Duran, announced their comprehensive approach to addressing homelessness in Kern County with the millions of dollars received from the state Department of Health Care Services. Duran emphasized their unique approach of utilizing street medicine teams to provide medical and educational services directly to the homeless population who may not seek preventive care otherwise. The funds, obtained through the California Advancing and Innovating Medi-Cal Housing and Homelessness Incentive Program, will be directed towards tackling various problems impacting the homeless, including mental, behavioral, and medical issues. This 12-month program is designed to establish infrastructure and focus on sustainable programs to bridge the gap and bring care to those in need.

Duran announced that with most homeless individuals eligible for Medi-Cal, Kern Family Health Care will be able to offer ongoing services once the targeted teams are established. To create these teams, Kern Health Systems will partner with various providers including The Open Door Network, Kern Behavioral Health and Recovery Services, Habitat for Humanity, Clinica Sierra Vista, and Flood Ministries. This collaboration aims to tackle the various challenges faced by the homeless population.

Flood Ministries, already offering support to the homeless, will expand their services with additional funding to provide street outreach and medicine to rural homeless individuals in Kern County. The organization’s aim is to not only connect the homeless to necessary health care but also to guide them towards stable housing. According to Jim Wheeler, Executive Director of Flood Ministries, “Our objective is to engage with these individuals and ensure they receive proper health care while also leading them towards a path to secure housing.”

Homelessness can be a traumatic and life-threatening experience, according to Wheeler, who also highlighted the high prevalence of chronic conditions among the homeless population. He is dedicated to making resources more accessible for this population. Mere enrollment in a program is not enough, he emphasized, as the true test lies in accessing the health care.

Wheeler stated that Flood Ministries is already in the process of hiring street outreach teams, and Duran predicted that these teams will be deployed within the next few weeks. Wheeler feels a strong sense of obligation towards the homeless individuals in Kern County, referring to them as brothers, sisters, mothers, fathers, cousins, uncles, and aunts, and believes it is their duty to help them move beyond homelessness.

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