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Telehealth service brings medical care to local shelters

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Posted: Aug 17, 2020 9:32 AM

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    ST. LOUIS (KMOV) -- People with no permenant housing are the ones in the most need of health care. St. Louis County is leading the way in treating the uninsured with their Telehealth services.

The health department says these services are nothing new. Beforehand, the shelters were transporting clients to the clinics. With the Telehealth service, they can now reach more people.

"When they first started talking about Telehealth services, the first thing I said is this is going to revolutionize how we serve," Loaves and Fishes Director Jacki Macintosh said.

The organization has been serving the homeless and low income families for 30 years. The focus is getting families off the streets and in safe, permanent housing.

"Those without permanent housing those are the ones who are in need of some of the best healthcare," Ken Griffin from the St. Louis County Health Department said.

Because of the barriers of getting to see a doctor is tough, Telehealth can serve clients in the shelter without them having to leave. Primary care, mental health are among the various services offered.

"Instead of turning blind eye to them, instead of sending them to the ER to bog down that and those individuals that are doing things for COVID-related issues we here are focusing on helping them. We are reaching them where they are," he added.

Loaves and Fishes serves families but 52 percent are children, the most vulnerable in the homeless service industry.

"Kids in homeless services really struggle with a lot of different issues. So by bringing telehealth services into the shelters, to children now have access to treatment that can impact their entire life," said Macintosh.

Macintosh said the disappropriation of services in healthcare is something COVID-19 brought to light.

St. Louis County is one of four to five places in the country doing this. The goal here is to improve the expereince of care and quality of life.

The county telehealth services has the capability to see 38,000 people.

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