As with many major metropolitan areas in the country, the story of Indianapolis can be divided into a tale of two cities. One side is the explosive growth of the tech industry and thriving, health care community. The other is pockets of generational poverty and helplessness. One organization committed to improving the quality of life for its neighborhood residents is Shepherd Community Center, located in the 46201 zip code where there are four times more overdoses than the rest of the city and the infant mortality rate ranks the highest in the state.
In 2015, Shepherd launched the Shalom Project to focus on the root causes of poverty, crime and despair in the area. Key to this initiative was hiring a community police officer, dedicated to the neighborhood. It didn’t take long for the Shalom Project to reveal that the community’s issues were more than crime, and that medical assistance was needed to address a variety of issues, ranging from addiction and mental health, to understanding treatment plans and taking a proactive approach to one’s care. IEMS and CORE were ready to expand their reach and meet the needs of our area’s most vulnerable populations.
In 2016, IEMS/CORE paramedic Shane Hardwick teamed with Indianapolis Metropolitan Police Department reserve deputy Adam Perkins to focus on building relationships and making positive changes within the community, through understanding of available resources and empowering residents to take a proactive approach to their wellness. The two executed CORE’s delivery model of meeting with individuals and families to identify unmet health and social needs, and work to reduce 9-1-1 calls and emergency room visits, averaging 120 contacts per month. Perkins and Hardwick believe they are making a difference by developing these relationships with the patients in their moments of crisis. “It’s not just an ambulance ride to the hospital,” said Hardwick. “It’s sitting with them in their homes making sure they know when their follow-up appointment is, if they have transportation, and did all prescriptions get filled.”