Crozer Health EMS Serves the Homeless in Delco
Community Outreach Team Provides Clinics and Winter Gear
Photo credit: Justin Durner
Crozer Health’s Emergency Medical Services (EMS) teams are out serving members of Delaware County every day. As shelter availability decreased due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the EMS team has been noticing increases in requests for help, but not for their traditional emergency services. Team members began fielding increased requests for food, blankets and medical care on their runs. In response, they developed the Crozer Health EMS Community Outreach Program to help meet these needs.
As part of the Community Outreach Program, Crozer Heath EMS members dedicate time off work hours to volunteer and take care of those in need. Most served are homeless or living in improvised conditions with no means of survival, connecting them with resources or medical care. At regularly scheduled outreach events, members of the EMS outreach team provide on-site medical care, flu vaccinations, supplies, warm food, social/recovery service referrals and connections to shelters and housing. Each of these outreach events serves about 30 people and is growing. With that growth, the team has as expanded locations. Originally serving the Upper Darby, Pa., community, they now have outreach events in Chester, Pa.
“It’s truly amazing to see the outreach program expand in such a short period of time,” said Lt. Beth McCall. “The partnership of the Crozer Health EMS team alongside Crozer Health staff, combined with donations from local Girl Scout service units has been overwhelming. We have been able to provide not only for those who are homeless, but for people residing in shelters and local neighborhoods who are struggling to make ends meet.”
During the course of the last several months of outreach events, members of the EMS team noticed a decrease in the number of allowable admissions to local shelters. Combine that with COVID-19 precautions in public places, like the 69th street station and other transportation centers where the homeless often seek shelter from life threatening cold weather, the team saw an increased need for warm winter gear.
As the temperatures dropped, members of EMS team feared for the safety of the people they see during their outreach clinics. That’s when the EMS outreach team came together to rally the Crozer Health community. Stanley Morrison, emergency medical technician, and Ksenya Basarab, paramedic FTO at Crozer Health EMS North Division, organized a health system wide donation drive, asking members of the Crozer Health team and community for winter gear, including hats, gloves, blankets, sleeping bags, socks, sweatshirts, jackets, backpacks and hygiene products. Collection boxes were stationed at Crozer Health hospitals and outpatient locations.
“Each of our EMS outreach team members have been working extensively to lay the groundwork for this program and we’re grateful for the support shown by health system employees through the donation drive,” shared Basarab. “The donated items we received literally provide means of survival for people facing dire conditions as a result of homelessness and deep poverty. These donations are acts of care and mutual aid that help us expand our services to provide more resources for our most vulnerable patients.”
The Community Outreach Program is just another way that Crozer Health's EMS teams continue to care for the people of Delaware County. In addition to providing vital care and transport at the scene of emergencies, the Crozer EMS team also provides hands-on clinical education, training and simulation to health care professionals and students.
“For more than 30 years, the EMS team at Crozer Health has been providing compassionate emergency care to our community,” said Bruce Egan, Chief of Crozer Emergency Medical Services. “I’m proud of the team’s dedication and commitment to not only serve our patients, but also to giving back to our community outside of their work duties. It speaks to the incredible character of our people.”