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North County organizations host homeless health care fair in Escondido

Interfaith Community Services and Neighborhood Healthcare joined forces to put on a health care fair for people experiencing homelessness on Monday in Escondido.

“So we can bring people inside so they can get clothing, showers, haircuts, dental services ... and health plans," said Felipa Rios, the chief program officer at Interfaith.

She said health care fairs help the community build trust, not only with them, but also with other service providers.

“We believe that supportive services and health care should work together in order to make everyone healthy and get people in and off the streets,” Rios said. 

Interfaith Community Services offers supportive services to people experiencing homelessness in North County.

Terri Fleck was living on the streets before seeking help at their emergency shelter in Escondido, and receiving some terrible news.

“I came here because I was really losing it, so I came here and I found out I have breast cancer but I've been here and they've been so helpful with that,” she said.  

It’s stories like Fleck’s that motivate Interfaith to highlight the importance of health care in the unhoused.

“Unfortunately we're seeing an increased need. Those needs are getting more and more complex," said Dr. Rakesh Patel, the CEO of Neighborhood Healthcare. He says mobile clinics have helped them with outreach but partnering with Interfaith allows them to address more needs.

“When we think about health care, what we know is we need to fix housing, food, other issues, that at Neighborhood Health we know we're not the best at doing." Patel said. "When we partner with someone like Interfaith we can start to address those things and on our end we bring medical services, behavioral health services, podiatry services ... So really filling in this complete picture to take care of our patients.”

Over 150 individuals attended Monday’s fair.

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