By Damian Nelson, Director, Learning and Impact
The strength of The Night Ministry's three Outreach and Health Ministry Programs is their ability to tailor their approaches to better help Chicago residents who are unhoused or experiencing poverty. The Health Outreach Bus, Street Medicine Team, and CTA Outreach Program each serve unique populations with distinct circumstances and, because of those distinctions, tailor services to best address the varying needs of their clients. All three programs bring services directly to clients and allow them to decide which services they want to access, increasing the scope and impact of the programs.
Surveys conducted by the Learning and Impact Department with Outreach and Health Ministry clients confirm the individuals served within each program have diverse living situations. Staff within each program understand these distinctions and tailor services to meet the needs of each individual client.
Almost all clients of the Street Medicine Team are unsheltered, living outside. The team's first step when working with a new client is often to provide a tent, which both increases the client's safety and ability to stay in one location until a more permanent housing solution is found. The Street Medicine team provided about 60 tents to clients in the previous fiscal year. Similarly, CTA Outreach clients are overwhelmingly unhoused, but use Chicago's transit system to seek shelter, which is why The Night Ministry conducts outreach at public transit stations. Most Bus clients are housed; however, their housing is often unstable, and they access the services the Bus offers, such as food and hygiene supplies, to help meet their basic needs.Clients within each program also have distinct health care needs. Because most CTA and Street Medicine clients report not accessing any medical treatment outside of the care offered by The Night Ministry or relying on the emergency room for critical circumstances, they are more likely to have complex medical conditions that require immediate attention. Bus clients are more likely to receive care from a clinic, but a large percentage still report using the emergency room or not seeking care of any kind. The Night Ministry's medical professionals work to understand the individualized needs of each client and provide the highest standard of care possible.
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