The mission of Parkview Health is to improve the health and encourage the well-being of the communities we serve. As a not-for-profit organization, Parkview also invests its resources into services and programs that directly impact these aspects of life for people of all ages and backgrounds. With such a wide range of needs in the areas we serve, the health system has chosen to expand its positive impact by supporting community partners. These relationships strengthen organizations created to reach specific populations or facilitate specialized care for a particular group.
A wonderful example of what this type of collaboration can do, is the relationship between Parkview Health and the Fort Wayne Rescue Mission.
Nurses in the area
For more than a decade, the health system and faith-based organization have worked together to serve the needs of those experiencing homelessness, addiction and mental health challenges.
Chris Howell, RN, community nurse, Parkview Health, has been with the Rescue Mission since the beginning. “Ten years ago, I had just finished my bachelor’s degree and I needed a purpose,” he said. “It was a God-driven purpose, to help those experiencing homelessness with barrier to care. This is how I can help.”
Chris, Amanda Hakes, BSN, RN, community nursing navigator, and Anthony Ogunsin, CCHW, certified community health worker, coordinate efforts to help residents navigate their physical, mental and spiritual well-being. “We walk beside them until they reach a better place.” And demand has grown exponentially. Earlier, Chris estimated that he might have seen 50 men a month, but now, that number can be as high as 300 a month. Nurses help with anything from TB tests, to medication management and education, to smoking cessation, to blood pressure checks and cardiology referrals, to helping coordinate care. “Any gift, we try to help. Sometimes,” said Chris, “they just need someone to listen.”
Former resident Patrick Mojet, who now serves as a case manager in the Rescue Mission’s Outreach Program, knows all too well the power of accessing medical services. “Before, I used to come down here, eat, shower and spend the night,” he said. “But eventually, I got into trouble. I did the program for a year, took classes, went to recovery meetings and joined a church. My life is improving. I knew Nurse Chris and Nurse Amanda all that time and we were close. Nurse Chris is still with me, like a mom!”
Medical and mental health resources
“Our relationship with Parkview is exciting and dynamic,” David Pitcher, director of outreach, The Fort Wayne Rescue Mission, said. “Both organizations strive for the same goals. We want individuals to recover, mind, body and soul, and to have their best chance in life. To thrive. To look forward to care, we want to take them from a place of crisis, where they are at risk, and work with them until they are safe and thrive.”
Advancing residents in this way, means connecting them with the right experts and resources. Parkview provides a team of nurses, as well as case managers and counselors to support the Rescue Mission population.
“We also have a wonderful relationship with Parkview Behavioral Health Institute – Park Center, and the Outreach Program in particular,” said David. “We have on-site Parkview intakes, on-site counseling and coordinated entry assessments, and on-site case management. We can offer 48 fully dedicated beds and two dorms specifically designed to serves individuals in a homeless crisis who also struggle with mental illness.
For both mental and physical health care, David believes residents having access to Parkview’s Rescue Mission staff makes a difference. “It makes individuals feel more comfortable when they know that continuity of care comes from the same organizations,” he said. “They understand that Parkview makes it possible for people who live here to have access to resources.”
The blessing of serving others
For Patrick, David and Chris, the hard work pays off when they see the residents improve and become healthier.
“It’s a blessing and a gift,” Chris said. “I’ve learned as much from the men I’ve helped as they have from me. What I consider a small thing is a big thing to others, so seeing the small victories is what keeps me coming back every day.
Patrick’s perspective is one of someone who sees the power of access to care on a personal and professional level. “The work I do now with outreach is rewarding, and I know how much (the Parkview team members) have helped the residents and the community,” he said. “Having them here is an amazing part of the Rescue Mission and I appreciate them. It’s a blessing.”