“People want to be healthy, but they just don’t know how,” said Andrea Bell, outreach and enrollment manager for The Parsons Family Health Center in Phoenix. “I think the other part of it is people that go into emergency services and if they’re homeless, they’ve got that stigma and that’s what they’re used to being treated as, but here there is no judgment.”
Bell said the center is part of the nonprofit Circle the City whose mission is to deliver healthcare solutions to individuals and families facing homelessness.
This not only includes the center’s outpatient clinic providing primary and preventive healthcare, but they also have a 50-bed medical respite where people can recover from an injury or illness and a mobile medical clinic.
“The interesting thing about the respite center is we bring folks in and they know they’re going to be staying there for 30 to 45 days,” Bell said. “We have the outpatient setting and people are coming in on their own and we’ve got to use that opportunity to sell it to them.
“Why health and wellness is so critical to them, especially with them being on the streets,” Bell continued.
One issue those living on the streets have to deal with is staying hydrated in the Arizona heat.
The Parsons Family Health Center is serving as a hydration and wellness check station through the Phoenix Heat Relief Network.
“We’re allowing anyone who is experiencing homelessness to come in to our clinic and we will give you as much water as you need,” Bell said. “If you need to see a medical provider, we can make that happen as well.”
“It’s about preventive care and making sure they understand the importance of drinking water regularly,” said Margarita Mendez, nurse manager for The Parsons Family Health Center.
She said some signs that a person may be dehydrated include having a dry and sticky mouth, sleepiness, thirst, low blood pressure and rapid heartbeat.
“So just drinking plenty of water at regular intervals throughout the day, wearing a hat, taking breaks from the direct sunlight and sunscreen is important in Arizona,” Mendez said.
In order to keep everyone hydrated this summer, The Parsons Family Health Center is looking for donations from the community.
Some of the water partners include Hensley Beverage Company, Sprouts Farmers Market and Shamrock Foods.
“We’re working with Tempe Police Department,” Bell said. “They don’t have any water partners right now, so we have teamed up with them and we’re giving them as much water as we can on a weekly basis and to Mesa Fire.”
Bell said all it takes is one case of water to make a difference in a person’s life.
“If you’ve got just a case of water, well that’s perfectly fine,” Bell said. “Whatever you have to donate, we will take it and make sure it gets to those folks in need.”
The Parsons Family Health Center water campaign goes until September. For more information, visit http://www.circlethecity.org