Kaiser Permanente’s community involvement uniquely pairs grant funding with 65 years of clinical expertise, medical research, and volunteerism to support prevention-focused, evidence-based programs that are expanding access to care and creating healthy environments. Kaiser Permanente recently awarded the Hearing and Speech Center a $10,000 grant to support our Hearing Connect Program that will help more people in this community get access to the resources they need to live a healthy life. The Hearing Connect Program’s goal is to ensure low-income or homeless individuals have access to hearing healthcare and to eliminate the barriers which often keep them from receiving care.
The Hearing and Speech Center has been providing hearing screenings for Project Homeless Connect participants for many years, however we have found that it has been hard to get participants to continue to access care after their initial screening. In 2018, HSC and PHC started a 6 month Hearing Connect Pilot Program to better understand the barriers to accessing hearing healthcare services and to understand the impact of hearing on people experiencing homelessness. The Hearing Connect program was designed to replicate the vision and denture programs that PHC already had implemented. Project Homeless Connect will help engage participants that are receiving other services or drop in to their outreach days and refer them to the Hearing Connect program. Case managers at PHC and HSC will build a relationship with each participant to help them navigate MediCal, schedule appointments, and connect them with other healthcare providers as needed. The case managers are a critical component to the success of this program and ensuring homeless participants are getting the extra help they need to access care.
Through the Hearing Connect program, we expect homeless individuals who have hearing loss will be able to gain access to hearing healthcare and hearing aid devices. These devices will help provide safety for homeless individuals who are living on the streets, help them be able to hear and communicate with other healthcare providers, and to also help them be able to gain employment or housing because they will be able to communicate. Through the surveys and relationships built with participants this program will also help connect homeless individuals with primary care doctors or other healthcare providers. We look forward to continuing to provide service to those in our community that are so often overlooked or forgotten.