Screen Shot 2020-11-05 at 10.33.37 AM

Courtesy of MultiCare Health Systems

By Shelby Taylor, MultiCare Health Systems

The MultiCare Greater Lakes Mental Healthcare Projects for Assistance in Transition from Homelessness (PATH) Program seeks to help people experiencing homelessness by addressing the root cause for each family or individual.

“Wherever they’re at, with whatever they need, we’ll meet them there,” PATH Program case manager, Trisha Munson, said. “And, we will problem-solve to find the solution to what needs to happen.”

Munson and other case managers receive referrals regarding locations of known encampments and gathering places. They head in with a nurse practitioner who can treat wounds, refill mental health medications and help with foot care; a substance use accessor; and local law enforcement who have a heart for helping others.

The team comes equipped with supplies and the unique flexibility to problem-solve thanks to community donations. With this generosity, PATH staff can take advocacy one step further and work to break the cycle of homelessness. Such was the case with Deanna and her baby, Lily.

Munson first met the mother and daughter during a visit to a homeless encampment. Together with Pierce County Sheriff’s Department community liaison team, she came across an abandoned car with Deanna and Lily inside.

Deanna and Munson began to talk. During their conversation, she learned that Deanna had been homeless for several years and had recently received drug and alcohol treatment in a facility that allowed her to bring Lily.

Deanna “did what she needed to do, and they discharged her to the street,” Munson said. “She didn’t have any place to go out of treatment, and that’s usually just the perfect storm for relapse.”

Munson also discovered that Deanna’s parents lived in Arizona and that a mere plane flight could mean Deanna could continue her recovery journey surrounded by love and support. Deanna and Lily could begin their lives anew, off the streets. Trisha started making calls to explore the possibilities.

“Because of donations, we can actually meet the needs of people,” she explained. “We were able to use donor funding to get Lily and Deanna on a plane.”

Once in Arizona, Munson connected Deanna with local resources, such as support groups for people who are in recovery and for single moms. With these wraparound services, she now has a system of support and accountability, which will help ensure her continued success.

Today, Deanna and Lily are thriving, having found a new path forward through donor generosity. “We wouldn’t have been able to get Deanna and Lily out of here without donations,” Munson said. “Without that advocacy, they wouldn’t have this opportunity.”