$2M Anonymous Gift Makes ‘Van of Hope’ Accessible to Most Vulnerable Population

TUCSON, Ariz. – (Sept. 13, 2010) – Medical care and outreach on wheels…the Van of Hope hits the streets of Tucson to reach some of the area’s most vulnerable citizens. Van of Hope, a flagship effort by a coalition of partners called the Southern Arizona Health Village for the Homeless, launches this week and will serve the healthcare needs of the growing homeless population. In turn, this will also reduce the number of emergency visits and inpatient admissions at area hospitals for preventable conditions that become acute due to lack of primary care.

According to the most recent (January 2010) numbers provided by Tucson Planning Council for the Homeless, nearly 6,000 people in Southern Arizona are homeless; more than 2,400 or 40 percent are children, either on their own or in families.

“The current state of healthcare for people who are homeless in Tucson is fragmented and homeless patients feel alienated from care,” said Doug Spegman, M.D., Chief Quality/ Medical Innovations Officer for El Rio Community Health Center. “If a person who is homeless receives medical care, it is likely that he or she will not receive follow-up care. Our hope is that an integrated approach by the Southern Arizona Health Village for the Homeless will help to address fragmentation, and that the collaborative partners’ “on the ground” experience with people who are homeless will result in an effective means of providing medical services to this especially vulnerable population.”

The Van of Hope is a modified 38-foot recreational vehicle equipped to provide mobile medical services. It will visit shelters, churches and other places where homeless individuals often gather. On board, a nurse practitioner, community health outreach worker and medical assistant can provide health assessments, medical treatment, case management and specialty care. This is a high-tech van, equipped with telemedicine exam cameras for tele-dermatology, tele-wound care and other consultations.

“From the program’s inception our partners, community members and community subject matter experts have been engaged in developing the program and moving it forward,” said Kathy Hall, Carondelet Health Network’s Manager of Southern Arizona Health Village for the Homeless. “An advisory council was established to address the continuum of care available to this population, and work groups were created to identify opportunities in specific focus areas such as accessibility, best practices, behavioral health integration and case management.”

The Southern Arizona Health Village for the Homeless coalition of partners: The program and Van of Hope was made possible by a generous gift of $2 million over the next five years from an anonymous donor to the Carondelet Foundation. Carondelet Health Network and Carondelet Foundation worked with other local organizations that have a history of serving the homeless to secure the gift. The gift will enable community organizations to better serve people who are at risk or homeless by expanding the reach of health care provided to new locations.

For more information about the Southern Arizona Village Health Village, please visit www.carondelet.org.

Carondelet Health Network, located in Tucson, Arizona, is a Catholic, nonprofit health care system dedicated to responding to the health care needs of Southern Arizonans. With a Mission to Heal, Carondelet was founded by the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet 130 years ago. Carondelet Health Network facilities include Carondelet St. Mary's Hospital, Carondelet St. Joseph's Hospital and Tucson Heart Hospital in Tucson and Carondelet Holy Cross Hospital in Nogales, Arizona. Other Carondelet services include seventeen Carondelet Medical Group primary care locations, an ambulatory surgery center and various outpatient services. Carondelet Health Network is a ministry of Ascension Health, the nation's largest Catholic, non-profit health care system. In Fiscal Year 2009, Carondelet provided over $43 million (8.1 percent of its net revenue) in Community Benefit to improve the health of our community and increase access to health care. More information about Carondelet Health Network is available at www.carondelet.org.