Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Client News: Inova Loudoun Hospital Launches Mobile Hope

Inova Loudoun Hospital is launching a new program, Mobile Hope. This new program was recently developed by Inova Loudoun Hospital's Mobile Health Unit to support the needs of homeless children in Loudoun County.

As one of the richest counties in the country, it is easy to assume Loudoun does not have homeless youth. Yet recently over 650 young students were identified by Loudoun County Public Schools as homeless or precariously housed. Nearly 40 percent of these young people do not have a guardian or parent in their lives. They sleep in cars, in the woods, in abandoned warehouses or "couch surf" among their friends.

More frightening, there likely are many more homeless children living in Loudoun County – as many as hundreds – who have not yet been identified.

Inova Loudoun Hospital’s Mobile Health Services recently became aware of this harsh reality and is quickly establishing partnerships with the Loudoun County Public Schools, churches, police, government officials, health officials and community leaders to create ways for these children to receive essentials including:

• Food
• Clothes
• Blankets
• Hygiene products
• School supplies
• Medical care

The youth that are being helped don’t need to worry because:

Being homeless is not illegal and nothing to be ashamed of.
Being homeless is not always a Child Protective Services call.
Students can get free breakfast and lunch.
Students can get free transportation to and from school.
Students will not be transferred from their current school.
Confidentiality will be met, unless staff feels that the individual is in danger or being abused.

"Inova Loudoun Hospital is committed to successfully partnering with others to meet the basic needs of homeless children in our community. Our hope is that we’ll make a difference in their lives," said Donna Fortier, community affairs executive & director of Mobile Health Services.

The Inova Mobile Health Unit has been providing health care services in the county for over 10 years, traveling throughout Loudoun providing services to a number of clients from large corporations to those in need. This Mobile Health Unit is one solution to delivering needed items to these children.  Inova is especially concerned with providing preventative care to this population, including vaccines, general physicals and other screenings.

For more information visit us on the web at www.inova.org/mobile-hope or to find out how you can help please call 703-858-8935 or email donna.fortier2@inova.org.

Inova Loudoun Hospital, serving Loudoun County for nearly 100 years, is part of the Inova Health System; a not-for-profit healthcare system based in Northern Virginia that consists of hospitals and other health services, including emergency- and urgent-care centers, home care, nursing homes, mental health and blood donor services, and wellness classes.  Governed by a voluntary board of community members, Inova’s mission is to improve the health of the diverse community it serves through excellence in patient care, education and research. Visit us on the web at www.inova.org/ilh.
Homelessness, as defined by the McKinney-Vento Homelessness Assistance Act:
Anyone who, due to a lack of housing, lives:
• In emergency or transitional shelters;
• In motels, hotels, trailer parks, campgrounds, abandoned in hospitals, awaiting foster care placement;
• In cars, parks, public places, bus stations or train stations, abandoned buildings, substandard housing, or similar settings due to the lack of alternative adequate accommodations;
• Doubled-up with relatives or friends, due to a loss of housing, economic hardship, or a similar reason;
• In these conditions and is a child or youth not in the physical custody of an adult (unaccompanied youth*); and/or
• In these conditions and is a migratory child or youth.
To determine homelessness, consider the permanence and adequacy of the living situation. Evaluate whether living arrangements are: fixed, regular, and adequate.

*Unaccompanied youth—are youth without fixed, regular, and adequate housing and who are not in the physical custody of a parent or legal guardian. “Unaccompanied youth” would include runaways living in homeless situations and those denied housing by their families (sometimes referred to as “throwaway” children).

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