A local homeless prevention nonprofit is teaming up with the Uniformed Services University to coordinate volunteer medical care for homeless people in Bethesda and clients who have moved in to housing programs.
About 20 to 25 students from the Uniformed Services University, the military medical school on the Walter Reed National Military Medical Center campus, will visit clients of Bethesda Cares in their permanent housing programs to help with medical issues that come from years of being on the streets.
Bethesda Cares outreach specialists John Mendez said it’s common for former homeless people who enter housing programs to suffer from sleep deprivation, high blood pressure and diabetes after spending years sleeping and living outside.
“We need additional support to monitor their health,” Mendez said. “They’ve had years of the elements pounding on them.”
The volunteers have also started to go out with Mendez and other Bethesda Cares outreach workers to talk to people still living on the street, many of whom are medically vulnerable.
A group of students helped Bethesda Care conduct a survey of medical conditions and needs during last year’s 100,000 Homes campaign. The organization is looking for more volunteers this year through the Montgomery County Coalition for the Homeless.
Mendez and Bethesda Cares workers have also increased their efforts to get homeless people aware of new options for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act.
“That’s a godsend for some of these people living on the street and suffering from the day-to-day conditions,” Mendez said.