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Rushford to Use Former Ambulance to Enhance Community Outreach

April 04, 2023

Four ambulances retired from service at Hunter’s Ambulance Service are finding new life helping others in new ways, including one that has gone to Rushford, a Hartford HealthCare provider of addiction and mental health services, to supplement services it already provides.

As the Local Mental Health Authority in Meriden, Rushford already has several community-based programs that are focused on working with the hardest to reach populations,” says Jessica Matyka, LCSW, director of crisis and community programs at Rushford.

“Rushford also has two programs that partner with the City of Meriden and the Police department to provide care and treatment to individuals with behavioral health conditions. Despite these programs, there are still healthcare disparities in the city and we aim to reduce those disparities by bringing care directly to the hard to reach populations with a mobile outreach van.”

Matyka described hard-to-reach populations as typically those who are not likely to access traditional services on their own due to barriers such as behavioral health conditions, unstable housing, transportation issues among other things.

“The most effective way to reach these individuals is through outreach in their communities,” she says. With the donation and retrofitting of the ambulance, “Rushford can now travel to those who may need service but have not been traditionally capable of accessing it. Having the outreach vehicle will now allow us to provide increased community-based interventions including harm reduction, naloxone training and distribution, connection to care and treatment, assistance with finding and scheduling appointments to care, assistance with medication disposal, among other things.

“The hope is that the van can bring a level of trust and engagement to a part of the community that needs it the most,” she says.