Samaritan House in Denver launches one of nation’s first shelter-based pediatric clinics

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, children experiencing homelessness are sick at twice the rate of children who have stable housing. To increase access to pediatric services, Catholic Charities of Denver’s Samaritan House has partnered with Every Child Pediatrics to provide on-site medical care. The integrated pediatric clinic is one of the first of its kind to be based out of a shelter for families experiencing homelessness in the country.

To commemorate the groundbreaking initiative, Samaritan House held a ribbon cutting and blessing event April 20 with speakers from Every Child Pediatrics, Colorado Access and Catholic Charities of Denver.

The project is part of a comprehensive approach that combines primary care and mental health services through screening, communication and coordination in a shelter-based environment. The clinic is open to families every Tuesday and Thursday. Since its launch in March, children from more than 40 families have been served.

Every Child Pediatrics provides wrap-around health care to every child living at Samaritan House, regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay. Their team includes a certified pediatrician, advanced care practitioner and medical assistant and fulfills primary care needs for all children from newborns to teenagers. These services include a wide variety of medical care such as annual checkups, sports physicals, common illness relief and vaccinations. The Samaritan House Wellness Consultant team provides patients with mental and behavioral health services in a primary care setting.

One of the families utilizing the clinic is new to Colorado. It came as a relief to the parents when they learned that they wouldn’t have to worry about finding healthcare for their two boys and newborn baby. During their first appointment at Every Child Pediatrics at Samaritan House, they were able to get their children vaccinated and the team identified a developmental delay for their oldest son and started the process of getting him the extra care he needs.

“Everyone at the Samaritan House has been very helpful in caring for my boys. I am so appreciative for all you have done for us, and I am glad my boys have great doctors that really care,” shared the mom of the family.

Combined with case management, Samaritan House is working with the family to transition into housing soon and they are excited to have all three children continue care with Every Child Pediatrics in the community.

After a family finds permanent housing when they leave Samaritan House, they will be eligible to continue integrated pediatric services at other Every Child Pediatrics sites. Every Child Pediatrics offers high-quality, comprehensive health care to over 24,000 children across Colorado with providers specializing in managing health care needs for families who come from complex life circumstances.

“Families experiencing homelessness are facing an additional barrier of access to physical health care. By partnering with Every Child Pediatrics to provide on-site pediatric services, we are addressing several barriers including affordability, transportation, access and the common issues surrounding receiving care,” said Orlando Padilla, Executive Director of Denver Shelters at Catholic Charities of Denver. “Every Child Pediatrics has provided overall primary care needs to families that are currently residing at Samaritan House. This partnership will change the trajectory of a child’s life and engage them in preventative health care that they may otherwise not have access to.”

Catholic Charities and Every Child Pediatrics are grateful for the support from Colorado Access. The grant has allowed for program expansion and will actively contribute to evaluation activities in the future.

“Samaritan House has provided high-quality sheltering and programming services to individuals experiencing homelessness for nearly 40 years. It has reached a point in its journey to challenge the status quo and provide services that are all-encompassing of an individual’s health. Samaritan House will best serve our pediatric population by partnering with Every Child Pediatrics to continue to address all social determinants of health in a child’s life,” said Padilla.