Since 1976, The Night Ministry has provided housing, health care, and human connection to individuals struggling with poverty or homelessness in Chicago. From a one-man operation to an organization of over 100 employees, The Night Ministry continues to serve the most vulnerable community members through innovative and lifesaving programs.
The Outreach and Health Ministry Program brings accessible, compassionate health care to individuals and families who might be unable or ineligible to obtain services elsewhere through Night Ministry’s Health Outreach Bus and Street Medicine Program. The mobile approach allows Night Ministry to focus on neighborhoods with high concentrations of poverty and homelessness.
Support from the Washington Square Health Foundation has allowed The Night Ministry to grow the Street Medicine Initiative from a pilot project to a permanent program. Street Medicine deploys a Nurse Practitioner, a Case Manager and an Outreach Worker on foot with a backpack of medical and survival supplies to provide triage and non-emergency medical treatment directly on site. For example, Street Medicine teams go into parks, under viaducts, and behind commercial areas, where the homeless often congregate or erect encampments. Their intention is to identify people not currently being served by The Night Ministry’s Health Outreach Bus, address their immediate health needs directly on site, and link them to case management for assistance and referrals to a primary care physician – thereby bypassing the Emergency Room.
In FY17 (July 1, 2016 – June 30, 2017) Street Medicine made 2,579 outreach contacts and conducted 91 health assessments with 281 homeless individuals living in encampments at 30 sites across Chicago. With help from Washington Square Health Foundation, Street Medicine is on track to exceed these numbers in FY18 (July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018.)
In recent months, the Street Medicine Team has worked to make new connections with housing programs throughout the city. Thanks in part to these new collaborations, the Street Medicine Team was able to help an individual get off the street and in to an affordable living arrangement. Street Medicine has also built a relationship with a temp agency that has connected various individuals to job opportunities. In addition to housing and employment connections, Street Medicine works to provide individuals with their daily needs. For individuals experiencing homelessness, the process of obtaining identification required to find work, secure stable housing, and access public services is often complex and confusing. Street Medicine helps individuals obtain ids, many of whom felt they would never be able to obtain one.
For more information about The Night Ministry please visit ww.thenightministry.org.