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Health Net Awards $1.5 Million Grant to Keck School of Medicine to Enable Street Medicine Teams to Better Serve Unsheltered Populations Across California

Date: 02/14/23

Sacramento, Calif. (February 14, 2023)Health Net announced today it awarded a $1.5 million grant to Keck School of Medicine of USC's Street Medicine program (USC Street Medicine) to enable street medicine workforces across the state to better serve people who are unsheltered. Distributed over a three-year period, the funds will establish two programs that prepare street medicine workforces to bring care directly to unsheltered populations in the places where they live – on sidewalks, in parks, under bridges, in vehicles or anywhere they reside.

"Health Net understands that the best way to care for our members with complex medical issues is to meet them where they are and consider the full scope of their needs," said Dr. Pooja Mittal, Chief Health Equity Officer at Health Net. "That's why we work with organizations like USC Street Medicine to expand innovative programs that address physical, behavioral, social and long-term health needs."

Street Medicine programs in California have been expanding at a rapid rate with over 20 programs started within the last four years. Driven in response to the rising rates of homelessness, many of these programs are aimed at helping medical professionals gain experience, training and systems to help meet the demand.

To meet this need, USC Street Medicine will offer "Foundations in Street Medicine," an intensive course on best clinical practices, outreach and engagement strategies, and government policies and programs to facilitate customized program development. USC Street Medicine will provide expert knowledge and technical support for new and existing street medicine teams to help bridge the existing healthcare gap in caring for unsheltered populations.

"This grant from Health Net will help spearhead the effort to provide more access to quality healthcare to people experiencing homelessness in California while enabling more organizations to provide the personalized, loving, compassionate and comprehensive care these vulnerable populations need and deserve," said Brett Feldman, MSPAS, PA-C, director of street medicine at the Keck School of Medicine. "We are grateful for the opportunity to share what our team has learned about providing specialized, onsite medical care with other teams trying to care for the under-resourced, and oftentimes, forgotten people we serve."

The medical school's Street Medicine Foundations Program will be a three-day experience for existing teams or professionals who want to learn more about street medicine. Participants from across California can learn more about the foundations, logistics and clinical applications for delivering care.

USC Street Medicine will also provide technical support available for organizations who are ready to build or expand a street medicine program. Open to a smaller cohort of street medicine teams, it will provide expert knowledge of how to develop, launch and improve care for people who are unsheltered.

"The work that Health Net and USC Street Medicine are doing is critical to advancing health equity and reducing health disparities in California," said Senator María Elena Durazo, California Senate, 26th District. "People experiencing homelessness often don't have access to the medical attention they need. This collaboration will help provide necessary care to improve the lives of all Californians."

"It can be incredibly difficult for those without a roof over their heads to access quality healthcare," said Assembly Member Miguel Santiago, Los Angeles County, 54th District. "The collaboration between Health Net and USC Street Medicine will help ensure that individuals of all backgrounds, regardless of circumstances, can receive treatments to better their physical and mental wellbeing."

"One of the most important lessons learned from the COVID-19 pandemic is that if we want to improve the health and well-being of our most vulnerable residents, we need to make care as accessible as possible," said Los Angeles County Supervisor Hilda L. Solis, First District. "This includes bringing services and resources directly to our residents, and I want to applaud Health Net for collaborating directly with trusted providers in our community to make this a reality. With this grant, our residents most in need, especially those experiencing homelessness, will have increased access to the care they need to stabilize their health – a critical step to beginning the journey towards permanent housing."

For decades, Health Net has served as one of California's most-experienced and longest serving Medi-Cal partners. To overcome the many negative social drivers of health their members face, Health Net has invested in innovative mobile and virtual solutions to ensure people can get the care they need, when, how and where they need it. Learn more about Health Net's work to expand access to care through mobile and virtual health initiatives (PDF).

Last Updated: 05/01/2023