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Harris Health System

A medical home delivering HIV care at the site of choice for homeless individuals in Houston

Thomas Street Health Center, Houston, TX

Name of grantee organization: Harris Health System

Project name: Project Hi-5

Organization Description:
Harris Health System is the safety net healthcare provider for Harris County, Texas, and includes 2 general hospitals, 12 community health centers, and one of the nation’s largest HIV clinics --Thomas Street Health Center -- where 5,500 patients receive care annually and which is headquarters for the system’s HIV programs (primary and specialty care and routine HIV testing).  Our Project RUSH (Routine Universal Screening for HIV) has diagnosed 221 new HIV cases annually since 2008.  The Harris Health System’s Health Care for the Homeless Program (HCHP) serves more than half the county’s 13,000 homeless individuals at 12 clinic sites located in homeless shelters.

Goals/objectives:

  1. To develop a process of linking HIV+ homeless individuals to medical care at locations where they are accustomed to receiving health care.
  2. To expand care offered at Health Care for the Homeless clinic sites to include HIV care.
  3. To provide medical homes to 200 HIV+ homeless individuals.

Catchment Area: Houston/Harris County, Texas

Location: Houston, Texas

Partners and Linkages:  All components of this project are part of the Harris Health System.  Health Care for the Homeless clinics are located in homeless shelters operated by other agencies throughout Harris County.

Program Intervention/Services:
With our routine HIV testing program as a starting point, we will link newly diagnosed HIV+ patients to primary care, assess needs for housing and treatment for mental illness and/or substance abuse and refer appropriately, and assign peer mentors to increase knowledge, motivation, and self-efficacy.  Among other services to be provided are case management, enrollment in ADAP, and medication management.  Previously diagnosed patients already in care at Thomas Street will be offered the option of receiving care at a homeless shelter clinic site. 

Program staff:
0.3 FTE Grants Project Manager
0.4 FTE Data Coordinator
0.15 FTE Health Care for the Homeless Project Manager
1 full time Program Coordinator/Social Work Case Manager
1 full time Service Linkage worker

Consumer Involvement:
Members of our existing Mentor Program will be assigned to newly diagnosed participants in Project Hi-5 to provide education, system navigation, and peer support.  When possible, mentors who have a history of homelessness will be selected.  Thomas Street Clinic’s Patient Advisory Council will provide additional input on program development.

Contact Information
Nancy Miertschin, HIV Project Manager
nancy.miertschin@harrishealth.org
2015 Thomas Street, Houston, TX   77009
(713)873-4185