Portland Street Medicine is a coalition of volunteer medical providers, social workers, care managers, and lay people dedicated to reaching our most forgotten citizens.
Our clinic is in the streets, wherever and whenever people are congregating and leading an unsheltered life. We deliver high quality reliable care and build trust through empathy and continuity. As an unconventional volunteer clinical team, we also seek collaboration with any community organization or health system eager to clinically extend and enhance their street outreach efforts.
Simply put, our mission is to be the frontline of improving the healthcare of homeless people in Portland. There are four core elements to this mission:
We care directly for Portlanders who are facing unstable housing or sleeping on the streets. We meet people where they live—in tents, in camps, in forests, under bridges, and wherever humanity seeks shelter. Our scope of practice is mindfully limited to immediate acute care and essential primary care, addressing clinical priorities and building trust.
As we learn the landscape of Portland’s hidden and forgotten, we direct our care based on community need. Every week we’re in the streets engaged in simple outreach, going tent to tent, camp to camp, offering help. Sometimes the homeless community members themselves direct us to individuals and groups and locations where there is suffering, risk and concern. And sometimes we act on tips and requests from community partners, connecting in the field with clients who are unable or unwilling to get to a clinic.
We treat what we see and work to connect our patients to a sustainable system of care.
We collaborate with a broad spectrum of organizations in the regional governmental, non-profit, and health system sectors. While our passion and focus are on street medicine, our ultimate goal is always to help people achieve sustained and integrated care in a way that can never be accomplished with street medicine alone. Thus, we seek partnerships to bend the curve of healthcare for the homeless.
Sometimes that means collaborating with community partners to build multi-disciplinary street teams that deliver a broad array of expertise to patients in the field.
Other times our collaborations mean augmenting the street outreach service of an existing program, enhancing their services and bringing a new dimension to their patient’s care.
Sometimes it simply means being the team to call when someone identifies an individual in need. The care we deliver in the streets is not new, and we are not the first to do it.
Our integrated and collaborative approach, however, lowers the barrier to bringing sophisticated, integrated care to the streets. Our operational model and ability to scale means we will have the depth and breadth to meaningfully enhance a wide variety of programs and services.
We serve not just our patients, but also our providers. We offer the Portland provider community a unique opportunity to serve and to give, with empathy and humility. In offering basic service to those most in need—unencumbered by our costly and complex bricks and mortar healthcare system—providers rediscover the joy and fulfillment of caring. It turns out this is a powerful antidote to the pervasive and devastating professional burnout experienced by many healthcare providers today.
We dedicate ourselves to community engagement and to being a beacon of Portland’s spirit of innovation, open mindedness, and ability to solve problems honestly and directly.