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St. Elizabeth Business Health and ESNKY partner to provide access to healthcare for the homeless

As we have been experiencing four seasons in one week and what feels like non-stop rain, the dramatic change in temperatures is playing havoc on everyone’s health.

Left to right,Kim Webb, ESNKY Executive Director, Nurse Practitioner Brian Lawson, and Brittney Kane, Operations Manager in the ESNKY Nurse Practitioner Room (provided photo).

We all have felt it, that cold coming on, it may be a tickle in the throat, a slight ache in the back of the neck, nose that starts to drip non-stop or that haze in your eyes.

What do you do to fight back and keep that cold from becoming full blown?

Most of us have the luxury of cooking some chicken noodle soup, taking some over-the-counter medications and curling up into a warm bed to recover as quick as possible. That image is a dream to many of our homeless population. But it has become closer to reality for guests of the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky (ESNKY).

An anonymous donor has gifted the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky with a $50,000 grant of which $25,000 was designated to provide on-site medical care.

This gives the shelter, for the first time, an on-site nurse practitioner to help those who don’t have a home to help them get back on their feet quicker.  St. Elizabeth Business Health is a strategic partner in placing the nurse practitioner on-site.

“St. Elizabeth Healthcare is proud to work with the Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky to offer an onsite nurse practitioner who will be able to serve the immediate needs of homeless guests while at the shelter,” said Chris Carle, President and CEO of the St. Elizabeth Provider Network/Business Health Services. “In addition, by having a nurse practitioner on staff we’ll be able to perform certain screenings and immunizations, while also providing early intervention and treatment options for specific health concerns.”

The shelter has also been given a supply of over-the-counter medicines and the nurse practitioner can prescribe much needed basic medicine.

“The over-the-counter medications can offer symptoms relief for common ailments such as cold or flu and generalized aches and pains,” said Brian Lawson, nurse practitioner. “Screenings such as blood pressure and blood sugar can identify individuals that need referrals into primary care for further evaluation and treatment.”

The impact of having a nurse practitioner on staff enables screenings that have identified cases where  individuals needed immediate attention at night for services that my not require a visit to the doctor.  This in effect reduces costs for everyone because guests are being seen in a more economical setting than someplace such as the emergency room.  The shelter encourages those that have insurance to meet or follow-up with their primary care physicians whether that is with HealthPoint or St. Elizabeth.

“Although the circumstances surrounding this group of individuals are different from patients in other practice settings, the guests are human beings and deserve a basic level of health care as any other individual.” said Mr. Lawson.

What is the next step for ESNKY?

“Many of our guests are eligible for basic health care coverage but do not have the skills to apply for the coverage or access to the forms or computers to apply” said ESNKY Executive Director Kim Webb.

ESNKY is excited about the partnership with HealthPoint to bring knowledgeable professionals to the shelter to help individuals who do not have a primary care physician or insurance to connect them to services.

“We know transportation to access resources in our area is an issue so we need to bring the resources to our guests rather than expecting them to figure out how to get to the resources,” said Webb. “Guests often give up because they can’t get to or don’t have the basic skills to navigate the systems available. Providing immediate medical care to our winter shelter guests furthers our mission to be a ‘Life Saving, Life Changing’ shelter – it improves the health of our guests, our staff and community.” 

The Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky is located at 634 Scott Street in Covington, Kentucky and is 95 percent privately funded.

To learn more about ESNKY, or to make a donation, click here or visit its Facebook page.

Emergency Shelter of Northern Kentucky

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