The newest community engagement effort from the department of psychiatry is the Street Psychiatry Program, a grant-funded collaboration with GRACE Marketplace, a nonprofit serving homeless individuals in Gainesville and Alachua County.
Street psychiatry is a method of bringing care to people wherever they live or sleep in an effort to remove barriers, said Dawn-Christi Bruijnzeel, M.D. ’01, an associate professor, director of the Street Psychiatry Program at UF and associate chief of psychiatry with the Malcom Randall VA Medical Center. If someone does not have a mailbox, internet access, transportation, employment, insurance or other socioeconomic tools, they may be unable to access the traditional health care system. But they are no less deserving of care, she said.
Every Wednesday morning for four hours, Bruijnzeel, a rotating psychiatry resident and a social worker from GRACE Marketplace meet homeless community members with free psychiatric care and supplies, like bus passes, food, water and clothing. Some patients have appointments established by the GRACE Marketplace outreach workers for the team, while others have been recommended by friends to receive help from the multidisciplinary team.
The goal is to reconnect people with clinical and social resources. Since the program started about a year ago, Bruijnzeel said, at least 10 people have gotten housing after receiving mental health care.
“Anytime we can help folks manage their medical health and mental health, it benefits the whole system,” she said. “But my main goal is to benefit the individuals. It’s important that someone advocates for them and tries to help them get back on their feet.”