United Health Donates $1 Million to Circle the City

It all began with a shoebox and a passion to help those in need. Sister Adele O’Sullivan, a family physician, saw the growing need for comprehensive medical care for the homeless. After saving initial donations in a shoebox, Sister O’Sullivan established Circle the City.

Circle the City’s mission is to create and deliver innovative healthcare solutions that address the needs of individuals facing homelessness. The organization has conducted extensive research to understand the barriers that homeless people face in receiving adequate health care. Transportation to medical facilities, little understanding of mental illness and addiction, multi-factor illnesses, insurance challenges, and monetary concerns are all obstacles for homeless people in obtaining medical care.

Since its founding in 2008, Circle the City has expanded exponentially. Its initial operating budget was $2.5 million, but due in part to successful fundraising efforts and generous donations from corporate supporters, Circle the City has expanded its annual budget to $16 million.

Last month, the United Health Foundation granted $1 million to Circle the City to help fund its new Medical Respite Center at the Maricopa Human Services Campus. The facility provides 24/7 medical monitoring to the profoundly ill. The center provides medication, wound treatment, and physical therapy in the hopes that its patients will leave healthy, find housing, and eventually be rehabilitated into society.

“Our mission is to compassionately address the health care needs of men, women and children facing homelessness,” said Brandon Clark, CEO of Circle the City. “Medical respite care is a national best practice in achieving this mission of holistic care for the most vulnerable in our community. We are grateful for the generosity of United Health Foundation for helping us expand this innovative model.”

Other than its Medical Respite Center, Circle the City provides many other services including medical, behavioral, and social services as well as a street and backpack medicine program to provide aid to those who are not treated at facilities.

After three years of testing, there was a 58.1 percent reduction in the cost of care to those who sought medical attention from Circle the City. This reduction produced $4.7 million in system savings for the 309 individuals enrolled in the study. By addressing the unique medical concerns that this community faces, Circle the City is able to effectively and efficiently produce positive results for the individuals it serves and the community as a whole.

The Foundation’s donation will further the reach of Circle the City by improving its facilities and expanding its resources. To date, the United Health Foundation has given nearly $358 million to communities and programs like Circle the City.

“This is about connecting people with the services they need,” commented United Healthcare Community Plan’s CEO Joe Gaudio, “There are success stories and the community benefits tremendously from this work, and this is why United Health chose to give them a million dollars.”

Lorna Romero

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