By Eileen Howard Boone, President, CVS Caremark Charitable Trust
While changes in the health care system are providing more people with access to health services for some underserved populations, such as homeless individuals, access to health care remains difficult. Limited access to health services for those who are homeless or at-risk of being homeless is a widespread issue, as their health conditions are often neglected or overlooked.
Project H.O.P.E. (Homeless Outreach Program Enrichment), a local health center in Camden, NJ, decided to address this situation by making health and access to health services a priority for its most vulnerable patients, including homeless and at-risk populations. Project H.O.P.E. began as an outreach project in 1993, with volunteers handing out sandwiches to homeless individuals and providing health care services on the streets of Camden. Today Project H.O.P.E. offers primary, preventive and related health care services to more than 2,000 patients each year through its main location and a satellite office in Camden and its Mobile Health Van, which takes its health services directly into Camden.
The City of Camden is the largest urban center in Southern New Jersey and is ranked as one of the most economically depressed cities in the United States.
Project H.O.P.E. is unique in that it is the only provider of medical services specifically for homeless residents in Camden County, and one of five Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) homeless projects in New Jersey. Its patients face a wide array of challenges and barriers to care, including lack of income and insurance (94 percent of patients are at or below the federal poverty line, and 44 percent lack health insurance). Additionally, being impoverished makes it difficult for Project H.O.P.E.’s patients to have a proper diet or exercise, both of which are required to improve health outcomes.
Nearly 15 percent of Project H.O.P.E.’s patients are living with diabetes, making it one of the most common diagnoses among its patients. With funding from a CVS Caremark Charitable Trust “Innovations in Community Health” grant in partnership with the National Association of Community Health Centers, Project H.O.P.E. will be better able to serve its patients suffering from diabetes. Project H.O.P.E. has implemented a diabetes management program that will create an intensive chronic care management approach for patients with diabetes who are homeless or at-risk of homelessness.
And, the health center is collaborating with Cathedral Kitchen, the largest soup kitchen in Southern New Jersey, to provide cooking classes to Project H.O.P.E. patients, where they learn healthy eating habits and how to make simple, nutritious meals.
CVS Caremark’s goal in partnering with the National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) on the “Innovations in Community Health” program is to help increase access to quality health care and produce better health outcomes, while reducing costs for patients and health care systems, and it’s proud to support the work Project H.O.P.E. does to better serve the health needs of the homeless population in Camden, NJ.
For more information about the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust and National Association of Community Health Centers (NACHC) partnership, please click here.
Eileen Howard Boone is senior vice president of Corporate Social Responsibility & Philanthropy for CVS Caremark. In this role, she leads a team responsible for implementing a broad range of communications, philanthropic and CSR programs that align with the company’s purpose to help people on their path to better health.
Howard Boone is also the president of the CVS Caremark Charitable Trust, the private foundation of CVS Caremark. In this role, she oversees the foundation’s charitable giving and is responsible for creating and managing strategic partnerships with non-profit organizations that share in the Trust’s commitment to provide greater access to health care in communities throughout the country.