Street Outreach with Medical Care
GMC serves chronically homeless, service-resistant individuals in our community. Many of these individuals stay on the streets despite the weather or their needs. GMC staff does street outreach several times a week, usually with our medical team, to offer medical and psychiatric care, build trusting relationships, and prevent injury or death from exposure.
Hypothermia Outreach Team (HOT)
In January 2013, GMC partnered with Georgetown University’s Center for Social Justice to create a volunteer hypothermia outreach team (HOT). These volunteers, made up of students, faculty, and staff, do street outreach on behalf of GMC on the coldest nights to check on those unwilling to go to shelters. They let people know about what warming sites are available, distribute cold-weather accessories, and check for signs and symptoms of hypothermia.
The Hypothermia Outreach Team was featured on NPR and Georgetown University put together this informational video. Take a few minutes to listen, watch and learn more about how the team works and how they interact with people on the street.
Saving Lives Through Street Outreach
Often, we encounter the same individuals week after week during our street outreach rounds. We always stop to say hello and ask if they need anything from us, and often the most service-resistant individuals will always dismiss us. “No, I’m fine. I don’t need anything.” Still, we persist week after week and become a familiar face and trusted source for help.
Mickey was a man we encountered every week sitting outside of the same store in Georgetown. We’d always say hello and ask if he needed anything, but he’d always say no, and we’d move on.
One day when we were walking with Dr. Crosland, our general practitioner, Mickey switched his answer from no to yes. He wanted us to check his blood pressure, which we found out was alarmingly high. Mickey let us call an ambulance for him, and we later found out that he was suffering from a heart attack. Mickey stayed in the hospital for several days before being discharged.
This is why we continue to do street outreach week after week and talk to people, even if they always tell us they don’t need help. One day, they might, and we want to be there for them when they do.