Greg Morris realized early that to provide needed medical care to homeless individuals, he would have to go to them. That was 25 years ago when he took responsibility of Peak Vista Community Health Center’s Homeless Medical Center. “I had a few [patients] coming in on a regular basis, and I developed a relationship with them,” Morris says.“Then they started taking me out to the camps.”
Morris began taking a medical backpack to provide care for the homeless in their own environment, which prompted them to start coming to the clinic where there were more resources. The effort evolved into the Mobile Health Services van, which is now a fully equipped medical office on wheels, capable of extending healthcare to El Paso County’s rural homeless population as well. “One of the most important and key factors in providing healthcare for the homeless is your ability to go out into the community and develop that trust,” Morris says.
Morris has served at city, state and national levels to address and end homelessness cycles, as well as developing homeless care curricula for medical schools. And in 2011, he founded Ascending to Health Respite Care to provides a safe place for homeless persons to recuperate after being discharged from the hospital. “Greg Morris’ commitment to ensuring that this overlooked group has access to exceptional health care is unparalleled,” says Michael Welch, Peak Vista’s chief medical and dental officer.
Morris describes one long-time patient who always brought a sandwich for his doctor during Morris’ weekly visits to his camp. “To see him housed now and drug- and alcohol-free is just phenomenal,” Morris says. “I’ve acquired all of the really great things and absorbed some of the tragedies too.”
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