The City of Portland is pleased to announce an exciting collaboration between several departments and a local non-profit agency. On Tuesday, May 9, Portland’s Public Health Division, Fire Department, Oxford Street Shelter, and Milestone Foundation began a year-long pilot project to increase substance use-related outreach and prevention education, as well as preventive medical services and referrals for some of Portland’s most vulnerable citizens. Funded with grants secured by the Substance Use Prevention Program and support from the Oxford Street Shelter, this project is the result of examining ways to increase access to medical and support services, with the hope of connecting individuals to care, and ideally to stable housing by reducing existing barriers.
Under the supervision of the Fire Department’s Medical Director, a team of specially trained paramedics will rotate shifts two evenings each week with Milestone’s HOME (Homeless Outreach and Mobile Engagement) Team and the Oxford Street Shelter. In 2016, the HOME Team served 600 unique clients and the Oxford Street Shelter served 1900 unique clients.
This project is based largely on the same philosophy as community paramedicine, an innovative and evolving model of community-based health care designed to provide more effective and efficient services at a lower cost. These EMS providers will be present to assist The HOME team and shelter staff with those many medical challenges. Access to quality medical care is increasingly important amid the opioid crisis the city and state are facing.
While the goal of this project is not to reduce 911 calls for service or hospital transports, project leaders do intend to monitor those trends.