Hamilton Health Network continues to provide resources for Flint's homeless and underserved

FLINT, Michigan — As temperatures decrease and winter weather grows near, staff members of Flint’s Hamilton Community Health Network (HCHN) are making efforts to assist those with the greatest need.

Since it was founded in 1982, the nonprofit has provided healthcare services for both the insured and uninsured throughout Genesee and Lapeer Counties, with a focus on supporting the homeless and underserved.

Stacy Sawyer serves as director of communications and marketing for HCHN and explained that anyone, even those without health insurance, can receive medical care from the organization.

“We are a federally-qualified health center, so if they don’t have insurance, someone can still come and get medical, dental, or behavioral health services,” Sawyer said.

Individuals may qualify for Hamilton's sliding fee scale, which adjusts the service costs depending on a patient's income and living situation.

Sawyer explained that homelessness can happen to anyone. “It’s a financial situation. Anyone can lose a job, anybody can not be able to pay a bill.”

Additional services available at HCHN’s eight locations include pediatric care, obstetrics and gynecology, diagnostic laboratory and radiologic services, pharmaceutical services, vision services, and substance abuse treatment.

Dwayne Clemons has been with the organization for eight years and has served as a homeless outreach specialist for the past seven. In that time, he has received “tremendous feedback” from the homeless community.

Clemons explained that in addition to providing medical services, which is HCHN’s primary focus, their staff also works in partnership with dozens of other local organizations to connect patients with additional resources they may need.

“We want to make sure that even though you’re homeless, that you’re not allowing your health to wane […] at the same time, we also connect the homeless with other services to try to get them from homeless to housed,” Clemons said.

One of HCHN’s eight facilities, the Hamilton-Flint clinic, is located on the second floor of the Sister Claudia Burke Center for Hope, which operates a daily soup kitchen and offers clothing, personal items, showers, a laundry room, and a warming center.

Clemons explained that as we look forward to the winter months, a shortage of affordable housing in the area is the greatest concern for vulnerable populations.

He hopes to see a more creative approach to solving that problem in the future. “My hope is that here in Genesee County, we can find a way to renovate some of the houses that are vacant but in need of repair.”

Every Thursday from 10:30 a.m. until 1 p.m., Clemons can be found assisting with a drive-through food giveaway at R.L. Jones Community Outreach Center, located at 6702 N. Dort Highway in Flint.

Every other week, COVID-19 vaccines are also offered. The next vaccination clinic is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 3.

In honor of Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week, which takes place November 12 through 20, plans are also in the works for HCHN to provide health screenings to those in need, as well as warm weather attire and a hot meal.

“We definitely want the community to know we are here, and if you are homeless or unemployed, or whatever the situation is, healthcare is available,” said Sawyer.

For more information about Hamilton Community Health Network, visit: hamiltonchn.org
Enjoy this story? Sign up for free solutions-based reporting in your inbox each week.

Read more articles by Katy Kildee.