In March 2016, Sutter Health and WellSpace Health started The Street Nurse Program. Funded by Sutter Health, the program is geared to meet the needs of an underserved population—those affected by homelessness—in Sacramento, California. To date, it has helped more than 200 people who have received access to on-site care, medical advice, disease management education, and wound care.

Amanda Buccina, RN, BSN, is the program’s sole nurse. While they are looking to expand the program, Buccina is making a huge difference in the meantime on her own. “I’m happy to be selected as the first nurse in this role. I was previously in a position managing Medicaid case management programs for a large managed care corporation,” explains Buccina. “When I saw the street nurse job description, it sounded like a great opportunity and one that aligned with my experiences. For the first time in a long time, I felt excited and inspired by a nursing role, so I knew that it was the right opportunity to pursue.”

According to Sutter Health, The Street Nurse Program provides a vital piece in the continuum of care, with programs and partners seamlessly working together to provide a whole health stability model for the most vulnerable among us.

“The Street Nurse Program is an effort to provide an access point into a traditionally very guarded population, enabling us to start linking the homeless to the services they desperately need,” says Buccina.

Oftentimes, those affected by homelessness won’t come to clinics. As Buccina says, “Working with this population, you have to be willing to meet people where they are.”

A great deal of her job involves building relationships. “I work to build trust and rapport with my clients so even if they don’t need me in that exact moment, we have a relationship and familiarity with one another. This comes in [handy] when clients do want and need support, like medical advice, an advocate at a doctor’s appointment, help getting into an alcohol or drug rehab program, or just general wound care,” explains Buccina. “Sometimes, honestly, they just want someone to listen to them–that there is somebody who is consistent and that they trust. If they know someone is invested in them, it makes it slightly more likely they will be invested in themselves.”

Buccina finds it touching when her clients let her into their lives. “They don’t have to let me into their world at all—and they do. It’s kind of like a window into their world. And if they trust me enough to help them,” she says, “it’s kind of a big deal.”

Michele Wojciechowski

Michele Wojciechowski is an award-winning writer and author of the humor book Next Time I Move, They’ll Carry Me Out in a Box.

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