Mobile medical unit helps Pinellas County's homeless

- For Valerie Leonard, life wasn't supposed to turn out this way. After years of hard work and raising a family, she found herself homeless.

"We had a family crisis about 2009 and I can tell you that you can be a good person and still have bad things happen to you and it will tear your world apart," Valerie told us.

But there's more to being homeless than not having a home.  There's no way to afford health care.  Now a Bay Area community has found an interesting solution to that problem.

Pinellas County has the the oldest running mobile medical unit for the homeless in the country. It was started in 1988 with a federal grant.

"If you have a mobile medical unit where folks can come in and get treated, we can be proactive with their healthcare needs," explained Lourdes Benedict, the director of human services.  

That care can be anything from mental health to dentistry, even pregnancy tests.

Dr. Ulyee Choe works with infectious diseases, and believes the medical unit is actually saving taxpayers money. "These individuals would go to the emergency room which really isn't a great thing for that person and not a great deal for the healthcare system because it costs the healthcare system too much."

But for Valerie it's more than just dollars and cents.

"There are a lot of lives that are completely saved you know, that wouldn't be here if mobile med and the nurses and doctors weren't here." 

For information about the medical unit calendar and who is eligible for the program go to: http://www.pinellascounty.org/humanservices/mobile-medical.htm

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