OSF HealthCare ‘Street Medicine Shuttle’ blessed for service to area’s homeless

Father Don Roszkowski, assistant chaplain at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, is pictured at the Oct. 21 blessing ceremony for the new OSF Street Medicine Shuttle, seen in the background. The vehicle will help address the needs of the area's growing homeless population. The ceremony took place at the Faith Community Nursing base at 719 N. William Kumpf Blvd. in Peoria. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

To enhance the care given to a growing number of “unsheltered patients who struggle with homelessness” in the Peoria area, OSF HealthCare on Oct. 21 blessed a shuttle van for use by its newly developed Street Medicine Program.

The van will provide space for the OSF Faith Community Nurse team to have confidential encounters and treatment with “our brothers and sisters who call the street their home,” said Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, chairperson of the boards for OSF HealthCare.

Sister Judith Ann Duvall, OSF, speaks during the blessing ceremony. (The Catholic Post/Tom Dermody)

“Not all could do the work you do,” said Sister Judith Ann said to those involved in the new outreach. “It can’t always be easy work. It can’t always be pleasant. It can’t always feel super safe. And yet it is sacred work.”

Recognizing and affirming the dignity of those in difficult life situations, Sister Judith Ann said the goal of the OSF Street Medicine Program is to “make friends, meeting them where they are,” and then to “discover ways to address what they need together with them.”

The shuttle will not only help provide medical care but also deliver food, clothing, blankets and toiletries.

“A UNIQUE SOLUTION”

“Though this was not our traditional nursing practice, creating a Street Medicine Program equipped with a van was a unique solution,” said Jo Garrison, director of ambulatory patient care at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center.

Susie Smith, manager of ambulatory nursing, pointed to other growing Faith Community Nursing projects such as two “Gardens of Hope” that supply fresh vegetables to families in need, as well as outreaches offering health and wellness education and school physicals.

“It’s amazing what can be done with a few people, a strong mission, and great determination,” she said.

Dr. Mary Stapel, medical director for community care at OSF HealthCare Saint Francis Medical Center in Peoria, says there are three primary areas of need they are seeing.

“Addiction, mental health and wound care, by far, those are the things that we’re seeing the most. These were patients that otherwise really were not accessing care at all, unless it was going to the ER, which really isn’t the ideal way that we want them to be accessing care.”

Father Don Roszkowski, assistant chaplain at OSF Saint Francis Medical Center, blessed the van with a prayer that Jesus “renew in us the compassion and tenderness you showed in your care for others.”

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