Phoenix Children's Hospital Celebrating 20 Years Of Homeless Youth Outreach
The Homeless Youth Outreach program at Phoenix Children's Hospital started in 2000 with one mobile medical unit that primarily served homeless youth in the Tempe area. On Thursday, it has expanded to two active mobile units and four clinics at fixed sites across the Valley that provide free medical care to homeless youth or youth at-risk of being homeless ages 0 to 24 years old.
The need for these services in the Valley has grown in the past two decades, said Sarah Beaumont, the program’s medical director.
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“The numbers that we are seeing on the streets have definitely grown," she said. "We on average see about 1,600 unique patients per year. We do about 12,000 visits in that time span. So the need unfortunately has always been there and I would love to say that someday we’re not needed, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.”
In the past five years, the program has also started offering behavioral health services, which have been in great demand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Telehealth actually worked out quite well and we were able to really increase the number of folks that we saw to help them deal with the stress and the anxiety of not only being homeless or at-risk for homelessness, but dealing with this surreal event," Beaumont said.
She expects the increased need for behavioral health services for this population will continue even after the pandemic is over.