At Alameda Health System (AHS) we recognize that where people live and how they live has a big impact on their health and well-being. Without a safe place to call home, it is nearly impossible to focus on basic health and medical needs especially during the pandemic.

Heather MacDonald-Fine, practice manager for AHS Homeless Health Center works with a dedicated team providing homeless patients with access to the best quality care in a common effort to provide a patient centered medical home to homeless patients. The team brings their unlimited compassion and caring for vulnerable patients treating them with the dignity and respect they deserve.

“I love working at the Homeless Health Center because I think we do such important work at AHS for patients experiencing homelessness,” said MacDonald-Fine.  “They need to be seen and cared for and I think my team does a really great job at doing just that.”

The need for health care for our homeless population in the community has never been greater and it continues to grow. The last count conducted by EveryOne Home in January 2019 found 8,022 people experiencing homelessness in Alameda County, half of whom, 4,071 were living in Oakland.

Reaching out to people experiencing homelessness in the County to ensure they can maintain their health and wellness is what drives MacDonald-Fine and her colleagues. “This is a very special place to work and everyone who works here puts the patient and their needs first,” said MacDonald Fine. “As a result, we all feel the reward of living the mission every day.”

The homeless in our community are among the most vulnerable and most in need especially during COVID-19 and with the flu and winter season approaching. Since many unhoused people live in group settings, have little ability to quarantine, and are more likely to have existing medical issues that make them more vulnerable to complications from the virus. The flu can also spread easily in group settings threatening their ability to stay healthy.

One way her team brings health care directly to homeless sites in Oakland is the AHS mobile health clinic. Mobile health answers a basic need for access to care for those who live on the street where people face many barriers including lack of transportation. Our state-of-the art mobile health van is equipped with a treatment room and small pharmacy.

MacDonald-Fine’s team in partnership with the Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless (ACHCH) staff the mobile clinic to treat and educate individuals about their illness, connect patients to primary care and other health care providers they may need, and assist them with finding and accessing other resources they may be eligible to receive. Most importantly, today they provide COVID-19 testing and vaccines so patients can protect themselves and others.

“All of the staff at AHS Homeless Health Center collectively feel that we are making a difference where a difference needs to be made,” said MacDonald-Fine.

Find out more about MacDonald-Fine and how she is leading the way to make a difference in the homeless community.

For more information and additional resources:

AHS Health Care Services

AHS Mobile Health Clinic

Alameda County Health Care for the Homeless