SAN JOAQUIN COUNTY, CA – After ten long years of planning, Dr. Randy Pinnelli is finally moving-in and settling into what will be a new office at the Gleason House Medical Clinic. The clinic opened its doors earlier this week and is part of the Care Link program which provides no-cost medical care for the homeless community.
For Dr. Pinnelli, who has been the program coordinator for Care Link and the Director of the Clinic, providing care for the homeless is nothing new, for the last ten years he have visited those in need out in the streets and under bridges providing medical care. “We go out and provide the medical care that otherwise these people won’t get,” said Pinnelli, while he gave us a tour of the clinic.
In the streets “we see a lot of wounds and skin infections… we [Care Link] served close to 6,000 medical visits in our program last year,” explained Pinnelli. With some of the latest medical equipment, the clinic will operate 20-hours a week with a capacity to see 12 to 15 patients a day.
Among the features of the clinic is a portable and digital medical record for patients, “we will be able to access the system and the medical records, remotely on the street,” he explained how the system will support the clinics mission. Inside the clinic there is a waiting area, three exams rooms, a treatment room for emergencies plus room for offices and a lunch/break room.
“Ed” was one of the first patients to visit the clinic on Monday and plans to come back to get a flu shot in the next weeks. “I think is really helpful, if it was not for this I probably wouldn’t be able to get some of the medicines that I need,” said Ed.
The clinic is conveniently located on the grounds of the Gospel Mission, along with the family shelter, the men`s program building, the chapel and to two other transition houses. “They have access to all the homeless services all at once,” said Pinnelli.
The Homeless Connect Project of San Joaquin County estimates 2,641 homeless people. Dr. Pinnelli clarify some myths and realities of homeless population. While the Latino population in the county is close 40 percent, Pinnelli estimates less than 10 percent of them to be considered homeless. “We see more women and children that are homeless,” he explained, “In our program we see 52 percent women and 48 percent men, we see people up in their 60s but the average age is in their 20s to 30s —a lot of families who have lost their jobs and those who lose their house are forced to live in the streets.”
In San Joaquin County there is a total of 16 homeless shelters and even though those who are homeless have an option to visit the Gleason House clinic, Pinnelli estimates that he, “will continue with the outreach program in the streets as they will not come… you have to go engage them, build relationships which overtime they will feel comfortable to come.”