AHCH Theories of Change: Reach Out!

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Outreach is central to what we do. And at AHCH we do outreach a little bit differently.

After the pandemic, homelessness has nearly doubled in Albuquerque, in just one year! Yet the demand for healthcare services has stagnated. We know people need our help but have a lot of barriers to getting the help they need. That's why at AHCH, our Integrated Health Outreach teams BREAK down barriers to provide lifesaving, trauma-informed, multidisciplinary care.

Last year, our teams served 778 people on outreach who never came into clinic. That means our outreach teams reached out to 778 people to provide lifesaving integrated health and social services, who otherwise would never have sought care.

What is Integrated Health Outreach (IHO)?

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AHCH was founded in 1985 as one of the 19 initial Health Care for the Homeless Program demonstration projects across the U.S., operating a simple but well-equipped mobile clinic out of an Airstream trailer, and providing health care wherever people experiencing homelessness were congregated.

AHCH's Integrated Health Outreach model has stood the test of time. One of the greatest measurements for success is when our clients refer other people experiencing homelessness to our program. We are a minimally marketed program. You won't see us on any billboards or buying ads---we rely primarily on word-of-mouth from satisfied clients. This reputation for providing excellent client care is what sets our programs apart from the crowd, and what has kept us around for almost four decades.

With 39 years of experience, we learned, we innovated, and we grew! Expanding our program offerings, adding new vehicles to our fleet, and moving into our current campus at 1st and Mountain. Throughout our decades of growth, outreach has been at the core of our activities and remains a key part of our strategy to end homelessness by providing equitable access to health care and housing.

Q: What is Integrated Health Outreach anyways?

  A: Our Integrated Health Outreach (IHO) is unique in that we staff our outreach teams to adapt to our client's complex needs, and that might not always be primary health care. Sometimes it's housing, or harm reduction, or resource navigation, or crisis management etc. We staff our teams to be prepared to meet whatever needs the client expresses in the field. We have invested in our integrated model by staffing interdisciplinary outreach teams, pairing medical and social service professionals who are skilled at engaging with clients experiencing homelessness and knowledgeable about our philosophies of care.

Q: How are the IHO teams staffed? 

A: Each IHO team includes a minimum of one licensed primary care clinician and one social services professional. When outreaching communities with several compounding needs, our integrated health teams work in sync to reflect the diverse needs of the community and are usually staffed with multiple disciplines such as dental, primary care, behavioral health, and psychiatry as well as social service staff--in order to address as many clients' needs as possible.

Q: Where do you Outreach?

A: Our IHO team delivers low-barrier care to people experiencing homelessness via roving outreaches to encampments and other client-occupied public spaces all throughout Albuquerque. Additionally, our outreach teams meet clients on a weekly and rotating basis across seven site-based locations, including the West Side Emergency Housing Center, also known as the WEHC or Westside Shelter.

Q: Why is Outreach so important?

This summer, Outreach is more vital than ever. With temperatures rising, there is no respite from the baking pavement and dangerous UV rays. On especially hot days, a greenhouse effect can raise temperatures inside tents to a deadly 140 degrees Fahrenheit. That's why our Integrated Health Outreach teams are working harder than ever to reach out to our communities, distribute water, educate people about heat survival tips, as well as treat heat stroke in the field--before it turns fatal. AHCH’s Integrated Health Outreach is unique--teams provide comprehensive medical, dental and social services on outreach five days a week. Even during thunderstorms and 100-degree days, they are an unstoppable force driven by a passion to save lives. 

Help support our teams who brave the heat to provide life-saving services every day.

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