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Enjoy Magazine

Spreading HOPE

10/01/2006 10:18AM ● By Brandi Barnett
Dr. Ann Murphy has a passion for helping the helpless. She had a strong desire to end world poverty, but knew that was too big of a task to perform in her lifetime. Knowing that change occurs from the tiniest interactions, Murphy decided to start smaller with the goal of ending poverty in Shasta County. She compares it to a tiny pebble thrown into a pond. It doesn’t look like it will make much of a difference, but because of the ripple effect, the whole pond changes.

In 2003, a team of three – Murphy, Rob Young, a licensed vocational nurse, and Betty Franco of Shasta County Public Health, set out on foot traveling to railroad tracks, rivers, bridges, and motels seeking out those in need and not only providing medical support, but also emotional support. They were providing hope. Ann saw that just being there for these individuals who had lost hope, even if it was the smallest intervention, made a difference. She knew she had found something she loved and wanted to go bigger. The idea of a mobile clinic that provides both dental and medical services to homeless individuals and families in the Redding area was born.

In 2003, Far Northern Regional Center and Catholic Health Care West provided the funds to purchase the HOPE van. Se following year, federal grant funds were awarded for the outreach and the mobile medical unit was upgraded to meet all of the California Health licensing codes and requirements. Se van has been in operation since 2005.

The HOPE (Health Outreach for People Everywhere) van outreach is for Shasta County homeless individuals and families. HOPE is a member of the local Continuum of Care Council, an organization established to help the homeless find jobs, housing, medical and dental care, food, clothing, temporary shelter and rehabilitation.

According to Linda Alexander, Project HOPE Administrative Director, “The goal of the HOPE team is to provide medical, mental, and dental health care to the homeless individual. Once they are stabilized in their health care needs, we work with them to establish a medical home (permanent health care provider) and refer them to other agencies to help in other areas.”

The HOPE van is in the community Monday through Friday. The van provides medical aide four days a week, dental 2 1/2 days, and a psychiatric nurse who helps facilitate treatment with the clinician on the van and works directly with the doctors in the Neuropsychiatry Department at Shasta Community Health Center.

The dental team also goes into the public schools and provides free dental screenings for all
students. After they have screened the students, they return for treatment of homeless children
and children who qualify under grant specifications.

There are dozens of workers and volunteers that contribute to the success of the van. Dr. Murphy said she has had amazing support from the community.

Four years after this project started, Dr. Murphy believes more than ever that the biggest changes occur from the tiniest interactions. She sees how just being there makes a difference and she still wakes up every morning asking herself what she can do to give someone else hope.

October 2006