Grant Helps Bring Health Care to the Homeless

by Meghan Kyle '13

Connie Brehm, Ph.D., FNP, RN, associate professor of nursing at Azusa Pacific, received a grant award of $10,000 from Kaiser Permanente Baldwin Park Community Benefits in June 2011. This grant helps support the School of Nursing ’s goal of providing health care to the homeless population of the San Gabriel Valley in partnership with the East San Gabriel Valley Coalition for the Homeless (ESGVCH).

This is the third grant the School of Nursing has received from Kaiser in the category of access to care, which helps to make primary care available to underprivileged communities. Grants such as these have assisted the Homeless Outreach Clinic that Brehm has led for 14 years. “The grant helps pay for certain medication, medical equipment, a small office to store supplies, prescription funding when necessary, and specialty care.”

APU’s School of Nursing has partnered with the ESGVCH since 1997 and each Tuesday from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Brehm takes several of her nursing students to the Homeless Outreach Clinic, which moves to different locations to provide onsite health care assessments for the homeless community. “We interview our clients and find out what their health issues are,” said Brehm. Despite having a limited workspace, Brehm and the nursing students do their best to give patients immediate care.

Brehm brings a sign-up sheet to her classes so students can come to the clinic and participate in the outreach. She is passionate about using the grant money not only to help the homeless, but to also enhance her students’ education. “I want students to develop an interest and become part of solving the problem of limited education and access to health care,” she explained.

The nursing students get the opportunity to work individually at the outreach. “Students are assigned a patient and there is no time restraint. They can give them a physical exam, talk to them, and discuss their treatment,” she said. After they complete their exam, the students present the case to Brehm or another faculty member and discuss the outcomes of the assessment.

Brehm hopes to expand the Homeless Outreach Clinic in the future and establish a year-round shelter where the homeless can consistently receive the care they need. “The San Gabriel Valley is the most underserved area of the community. It would be great to have somewhere the homeless can enjoy a stable environment geared just toward them,” she said.

By sharing her passion for providing assistance to the homeless with her students, Brehm ensures that APU’s support of the Homeless Outreach Clinic will continue to grow and show the university’s commitment to serving members of the local community.