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Comprehensive Homeless Access to Nontraditional Clinical Experiences

The Comprehensive Homeless Access to Nontraditional Clinical Experiences (CHANCE) program is a cooperative effort between St. Joseph’s, the Onondaga County Department of Mental Health, the Syracuse Rescue Mission, and the Salvation Army.  The program is funded by a grant with the goal of facilitating a connection between mental health services and the homeless individuals using the shelters.

To accomplish this goal, the CHANCE program employs one full time Master’s level coordinator who has an office at the Rescue Mission but spends a significant amount of time at the Salvation Army Women’s Shelter.  The coordinator’s role is diverse and flexible.  A part of this role is helping individuals transition from psychiatric inpatient units and correctional facilities into the shelters.  Training of the shelter staff is also a large focus of the program.

The program contracts nursing hours through the Visiting Nurses Association.  The contract is currently for 27 hours per week but is subject to change based on the need.  The nurse’s duties include medical assessments, client and staff education, frequent presence at the shelters to establish familiarity and relationship building, medication monitoring and injections as ordered.

A third component of the program is the availability if a psychiatrist.  The psychiatrist is available 10 hours a week.  The psychiatrist splits time between the two shelters: the Salvation Army Women’s Shelter and the Rescue Mission.  We also serve the Emergency Shelter, Barnabas House, State Street Apartments, the drop in center at the Rescue Mission and to a lesser degree, Booth House.

After the CHANCE staff has attempted to adapt the environment to where a relationship can be developed, slowly and with the intensity chosen by the client, our goal is to get the client connected with long term treatment in the community.