Mel Trotter Ministries is partnering with three hospital systems and two universities to offer free medical services to its clients who are experiencing homelessness. Community Partners Medical Clinic at Mel Trotter has brought together Mercy Health Saint Mary’s, Metro Health – University of Michigan Health, Spectrum Health, Michigan State University – College of Human Medicine, and Grand Valley State University’s Kirkhof College of Nursing to treat acute and chronic conditions with the goal of reducing both gaps in care and unnecessary EMS and emergency room use.
“The MSU College of Human Medicine reached out to us first, with an initiative for their students to do street medicine within our mission,” says Adrienne Goodstal, executive director, Mel Trotter Ministries. Street medicine refers to services that address the unique needs of people experiencing homelessness. “When the Heartside Clinic closed, Dr. Chen from Mercy Health asked us what would it look like if we were to partner to fill this gap.”
Spectrum Health, GVSU, and Metro Health also decided to get in on the action. Initial plans would have opened the clinic on March 11, 2020 — but COVID-19 sidelined that date. However, since opening in mid-July, the clinic has been full every day that services have been offered.
“We had this common goal of serving people experiencing homelessness in Heartside,” Goodstal says. “The hospitals, GVSU, and MSU are providing the medical staff, nurse practitioners and physicians. We’re providing the brick-and-mortar space along with two full-time support staff.”
Operating like an urgent care center, the clinic is open via appointments or walk-ins from 3 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. In addition to treating urgent complaints, the medical team identifies underlying chronic health conditions. If they can’t address those conditions, patients are connected to primary care or specialist physicians that can.
“We actually had a patient that came in a couple weeks ago with abdominal pain. The provider recognized it as something more urgent and sent him off to the emergency room right away. It turns out, he had sepsis in his abdomen,” Goodstal says. “If not for him coming in, he could have died.”
As Mel Trotter clients, clinic patients also have access to wrap-around services that help them address social determinants of health such as housing, employment, food insecurity, and transportation. Goodstal is thrilled with the unique collaboration that enlarges the scope of how they can help the people who come to Mel Trotter.
She concludes, “To have three major hospital systems and two large universities come together with the common goal of serving the most vulnerable population of Grand Rapids says a lot about Grand Rapids and how we care for people.”
Written by Estelle Slootmaker, Interim Innovation News Editor
Photos courtesy Mel Trotter Ministries