Circle the City receives federal grant to provide health care for homeless

More from this show

A local nonprofit takes charge of helping people who are homeless in Maricopa County receive medical treatment, a task normally designated to the Maricopa Department of Public Health.

Circle the city will receive approximately $3 million in federal funding and is expected to help 10,000 people in 2018.

TED SIMONS: UP NEXT WE HEAR ABOUT A NEW HEALTHCARE PROVIDER FOR THE HOMELESS IN MARICOPA COUNTY.

TED SIMONS: AN ORGANIZATION CALLED CIRCLE THE CITY WAS RECENTLY DESIGNATED TO PROVIDE COUNTY WIDE HEALTH CARE FOR THE HOMELESS, TAKING OVER FOR THE COUNTY’S PUBLIC HEALTH DEPARTMENT. HERE WITH MORE IS BRANDON CLARK, HE’S CEO OF CIRCLE THE CITY, AND KIM VAN PELT, THE CHAIR OF THE ORGANIZATION’S BOARD. GOOD TO HAVE YOU BOTH HERE. GIVE ME A BETTER DEFINITION. CIRCLE THE CITY. WHAT ARE WE TALKING ABOUT?

BRANDON CLARK: CIRCLE THE CITY IS A HEALTHCARE FOR THE HOMELESS ORGANIZATIONS. WE EXIST TO TRY TO FILL THE NEEDS IN OUR COMMUNITY AS IT RELATES TO HEALTHCARE WITH PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS.

TED SIMONS: HOW LONG HAS CIRCLE THE CITY BEEN AROUND?

BRANDON CLARK: WE’VE BEEN AROUND ON PAPER FOR EIGHT OR NINE YEARS NOW BUT PROVIDING SERVICES IN THE COMMUNITY JUST OVER FIVE.

TED SIMONS: IN THE COMMUNITY, IN MARICOPA COUNTY, IN CERTAIN AREAS, NOW COUNTYWIDE, HOW DID THAT HAPPEN?

KIM VAN PELT: IT GREW FROM AN IDEA THAT CAME FROM A DOCTOR WHO BEGAN SERVING THE HOMELESS IN MARICOPA COUNTY SOME YEARS AGO AND BEGAN COLLECTING DONATIONS IN A SHOE BOX. IT SORT OF GREW FROM HER OWN FRUSTRATION ABOUT THE LACK OF SERVICES FOR PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMLESNESS, AND GREW OVER TIME. THIS SPECIFIC OPPORTUNITY THAT WE HAVE NOW IS THROUGH A FEDERAL GRANT THAT’S BEEN PROVIDED TO CIRCLE THE CITY TO BE ABLE TO REALLY EXPAND THE SERVICES THAT WE PROVIDE COUNTY WIDE.

TED SIMONS: AND THIS IS A $3 MILLION GRANT, CORRECT?

KIM VAN PELT: YES.

TED SIMONS: IT CAN BE RENEWED EVERY YEAR?

YEAH, IT’S AN ONGOING GRANT THAT ENABLES US TO BASICALLY PROVIDE SERVICES TO THE HOMELESS IN MARICOPA COUNTY AND REALLY EXPAND THE ARRAY OF SERVICES THAT WE ARE CURRENTLY PROVIDING ACROSS A WIDE VARIETY OF VENUES.

TED SIMONS: I WAS GONNA SAY, WHAT CAN THAT $3 MILLION DO FOR YOU THIS YEAR?

BRANDON CLARK: WE CAN INCREASE SERVICES ACROSS OUR ENTIRE-- WE CALL IT CONTINUUM OF CARE. JUST OVER FIVE YEARS AGO WE OPENED ARIZONA’S FIRST MEDICAL RESPITE CENTER. SINCE THEN WE’VE BEEN ABLE TO EXPAND INTO SOME MORE TRADITIONAL PRIMARY INTEGRATIVE AMBULATORY CARE SETTINGS. SOME COMMUNITY OUT REACH SETTINGS, AND WE’VE CREATED A CONTINUUM THAT WE BELIEVE WORKS AND MEETS THE NEEDS OF THE PEOPLE WE ARE LOOKING TO SERVE. THIS GRANT IS GOING TO LET US SCALE EACH AND EVERY LEVEL OF SERVICE THAT WE PROVIDE AND HOPEFULLY MORE THAN DOUBLE THE NUMBER OF LIVES TOUCHED EACH YEAR.

TED SIMONS: WE GOT A SHOT OF THE MEDICAL RESPITE CENTER, 50 BEDS HERE. HOW DOES THIS DIFFER FROM A CLINIC, A HOSPITAL?

BRANDON CLARK: IT'S EMERGENCY SHELTER MEETS CLINICAL SETTING AND IT COMES TOGETHER TO TRY TO CHANGE LIVES. WE TAKE, WHAT IS REALLY THE WORST TIME IN PEOPLE’S LIFE, PERIODS OF ACUTE ILLNESS AND INJURY AND WE TRY TO USE IT AS A VERY DEEP INTERVENTION TO HEAL THE WOUNDS OR HEAL THE INFECTION OR ADDRESS THE MEDICAL ISSUE BUT ALSO TO ADDRESS THE HOMELESSNESS THAT COMES ALONG WITH THAT AND HOPEFULLY EFFECT THE ENTIRE PERSON.

TED SIMONS: I KNOW THAT YOU ALSO HAVE A TWO EXAM ROOM MOBILE MEDICAL CLINIC. WHAT IS THAT ALL ABOUT?

KIM VAN PELT: PART OF IT IS GETTING OUT INTO THE STREETS TO REACH THE PEOPLE WHO NEED CARE. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT IS REALLY EXCITING ABOUT CIRCLE THE CITY, WE ARE LOOKING TO PROVIDE SERVICES TO THIS POPULATION, BUT ALSO TO REALLY ADDRESS THE ROOT CAUSES OF A HEALTHCARE SYSTEM THAT'S BROKEN. WE HAVE MANY PEOPLE THAT COME TO EMERGENCY ROOMS WHO HAVE ACUTE NEEDS, BUT WE ARE TRYING TO ADDRESS THE PREVENTATIVE NEEDS BY REACHING OUT TO THEM IN THE COMMUNITY. TO REALLY AGAIN BEND THE COST CURVE IN HEALTHCARE.

TED SIMONS: THE CHALLENGES OF PROVIDING HEALTHCARE TO THE HOMELESS. WHAT DO YOU FACE OUT THERE?

KIM VAN PELT: I'LL LET BRANDON TELL YOU.

BRANDON CLARK: I THINK KIM TOUCHED ON GETTING PLUGGED IN IS HALF THE BATTLE. GETTING PEOPLE JOURNEYING THROUGH CRISIS IN LIFE, TO SLOW DOWN TO GET HEALTHCARE BEFORE IT'S CATASTROPHIC IS PROBABLY OUR GREATEST CHALLENGE. THE MOBILE CLINIC IS AN IMPORTANT RESOURCE IN GETTING PEOPLE PLUGGED IN.

TED SIMONS: I KNOW YOU PROMOTE A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO HEALING. WE’RE SEEING A CARE RIGHT HERE, WE GOT A SHOT OF A PATIENT ALSO WITH A SERVICE DOG, WHAT IS A HOLISTIC APPROACH TO HEALING FOR THE HOMELESS MEAN?

BRANDON CLARK: MIND, BODY AND SOUL. WE LOOK TO ADDRESS NOT ONLY THE PHYSICAL NEEDS, BUT THE MENTAL, MENTAL HEALTH AND SUBSTANCE ABUSE ISSUES THAT ARE INCREDIBLY PREVALENT AMONG PEOPLE EXPERIENCING HOMELESS, AND THE SPIRITUAL, THE PERSON BEHIND EACH PERSON WE SERVE, HELPING THEM REDISCOVER THE VALUE INTRINSICLY MORE THAN THE ROLE THEY’VE BEEN RELEGATED TO IN OUR COMMUNITY.

TED SIMONS: THAT'S WHAT YOU MEAN BY CONTINUUM OF CARE?

BRANDON CLARK: CONTINUM OF CARE MEANS ALL OF OUR LEVELS OF CARE, ALL OF OUR MODELS WE HAVE CREATED COMING TOGETHER AND WORKING SEAMLESSLY TO ADDRESS EACH PATIENT'S NEED.

TED SIMONS: CAN CIRCLE THE CITY DO THIS COUNTYWIDE?

KIM VAN PELT: MOST DEFINITELY. WE HAVE EXPERIENCED TREMENDOUS GROWTH FROM THE BEGINNING OF THE ORGANIZATION. WE BEGAN WITH SERVING A COUPLE OF HUNDRED PATIENTS THE FIRST YEAR IN 2013. WE EXPECT TO SERVE 10,000 PATIENTS THIS YEAR. NEXT YEAR, WE ARE LOOKING TO EXPAND MORE AND TRY TO REACH ABOUT 20,000 PEOPLE IN THE COUNTY WHO ARE EXPERIENCING HOMELESSNESS.

TED SIMONS: IT HAS TO BE DIFFICULT TO GET TO THE HOMELESS?

KIM VAN PELT: IT IS. ONE OF THE THINGS THAT'S GREAT ABOUT CIRCLE THE CITY, WE HAVE A LOT OF PARTNERS IN THE COMMUNITY. WE HAVE PARTNERS WITH HOSPITALS, WSHO PEOPLE COMING IN AND OUT OF EMERGENCY ROOMS WHO NEED CARE. WE HAVE COMMUNITY PARTNERS WE ARE LOOKING TO WORK WITH TO BE ABLE TO ADDRESS PEOPLE'S NEEDS, FOR EXAMPLE, IN SHELTERS THROUGHOUT THE COUNTY. CERTAINLY GOING TO HAVE A PRESCENCE AT THE HUMAN SERVICES CAMPUS IN PHOENIX.

TED SIMONS: I WOULD IMAGINE AGAIN, GETTING TO THE HOMELESS, FINDING, TREATING, WHETHER IT’S THE MOBILE EXAM OR GETTING THEM INTO THE RESPITE CENTER, IT'S A BIG DEAL. HAS TO BE TOUGH.

BRANDON CLARK: OUTREACH AND INREACH ARE THE TWO STRATEGIES, EITHER CATCHING THEM AT POINTS OF CRISIS, INPATIENT SETTINGS OR OUTREACHING THEM ON THE STREET OR EMERGENCY SHELTER, THEY’RE EQUALLY IMPORTANT. WITH THIS SPECIFIC POPULATION, WE HAVE TO DESIGN SERVICES THAT ARE AVAILABLE WHEN THEY ARE READY TO BE SERVED. WHEN THESE PEOPLE ARE MOST IN NEED ARE THE TIME WHEN WE NEED TO BE MOST RESPONSIVE.

TED SIMONS: TIME OF YEAR WHEN YOU FIND THAT MOST OFTEN?

BRANDON CLARK: I WISH THERE WAS A TIME OF YEAR. THE DEMAND STAYS CONSTANT THROUGHOUT THE YEAR. I WOULD SAY THE TYPES OF CRISIS CHANGE. WE OBVIOUSLY HAVE THE HEATS AND THE BURNS IN THE SUMMER AND WE HAVE THE FLU, SEASONAL MIGRATORY NATURE OF HOMELESSNESS TO DEAL WITH IN THE WINTER.

TED SIMONS: THE DESIGNATION HAS ALREADY HAPPENED, CORRECT? WHEN DO YOU START HITTING THE GROUND RUNNING, OR HAVE YOU STARTED?

KIM VAN PELT: WE HAVE ALREADY STARTED. WE HAVE NOT FULLY BEGUN SERVICES, BUT WE HAVE THE NUN THAT I REFERRED TO, WHO IS OUR MEDICAL DIRECTOR WHO IS CURRENTLY PROVIDING SERVICES. THAT'S WHY SHE COULDN'T BE HERE TONIGHT. SHE'S WORKING HARD.

TED SIMONS: CONGRATULATIONS. GOOD LUCK TO YOU. KEEP FIGHTING THE GOOD FIGHT.

KIM VAN PELT AND BRANDON CLARK: THANK YOU SO MUCH.

Brandon Clark: CEO, Circle the City
Kim Van Pelt: Board Chair, Circle the City

airs Feb. 28

Desert Dreams: Celebrating Five Seasons in the Sonoran Desert

Barry Gibb singing (Bee Gees: In Our Own Time)
aired Feb. 24

Bee Gees: In Our Own Time

A cute little duckling with text reading: Arizona PBS Ducks in a Row Event
March 6

Getting Your Ducks in a Row to Avoid Conflict When You Are Gone

Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, Kris Kristofferson and Willie Nelson
aired Feb. 23

The Highwaymen: Live at Nassau Coliseum

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters

STAY in touch
with azpbs.org!

Subscribe to Arizona PBS Newsletters: