Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
Bay Pines VA Participates in Annual Homeless Point-in-Time Count
February 9, 2017
BAY PINES, FL – Red t-shirts, clipboards, surveys, and bus passes…all tools given to hundreds of volunteers participating in the annual homeless Point-in-Time Count in Pinellas County on January 24.
Among the volunteers, were dozens of employees from the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System (VAHCS) including members of the executive leadership team.
This mission: survey and count as many homeless persons as possible to better understand the prevalence of homelessness in the community, assess needs of the population, and plan for future resources and strategies to assist those in need.
“The VA has been an amazing partner,” said Kevin Marrone, Vice President, Community and Homeless Services, Boley Centers, Inc. “In the last five to ten years working in this field seeing [VA] come to the table…the numbers of VA employees that are involved in today’s count are amazing.”
“Every shift there has been someone here from the VA. I don’t think that we can do this without their help, the community’s help…we are so happy that we have people from the VA getting involved with this,” he said.
During the course of the day and night teams of volunteers scoured local communities to identify those living without a place to call home. Outside emergencies shelters, in the street, at bus stops, and more, no area was left unturned.
“This is an important annual activity we support to identify homeless living in our community so we can work together with our community partners in meeting their needs,” said Suzanne M. Klinker, Director, Bay Pines VAHCS, outside a homeless emergency shelter in St. Petersburg, Fla.
“Everyone knows that sustainable housing is really a first start to having positive health outcomes, and that is what we’re all about at the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System,” she said.
According to VA officials, Bay Pines cared for over 5,400 homeless Veterans or those at risk for homelessness in 2016. Nearly 2,200 of which were permanently housed across the Bay Pines service area which includes the Florida counties of Charlotte, Collier, Desoto, Hardee, Highlands, Lee, Manatee, Pinellas and Sarasota.
Nationally, since 2010, Veteran homelessness has declined by nearly 50 percent, according to recent data reported by VA and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness.
A big reason for this success, officials say, is the strong working relationships they maintain with community partners who share the same vision – and that vision…to get individuals struggling with homelessness the help they need.
To learn more about homeless Veteran services available through the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System, visit www.baypines.va.gov/services/homeless.
About Bay Visions News Brief
Bay Visions News Brief is a video news product line developed by the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System Office of Public Affairs and Medical Media Services. The news videos complement Bay Visions - a quarterly magazine distributed to Veterans, family members, VA employees and Volunteers, members of the general public and other stakeholders.
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About the Bay Pines VA Healthcare System
The Bay Pines VAHCS is one of the nation’s leading VA healthcare systems, employing more than 4,000 medical professionals and support staff dedicated to providing the very best care to Veterans residing in southwest Florida. The organization is the fifth busiest VA health care system in the country in terms of patients served and is accredited by The Joint Commission, Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, and several other nationally recognized accrediting organizations. The Bay Pines VAHCS operates nine facilities to include the main medical center located in Bay Pines and outpatient clinics located in Bradenton, Cape Coral, Naples, Palm Harbor, Port Charlotte, Sarasota, St. Petersburg, and Sebring. To learn more, please visit www.baypines.va.gov, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/vabaypines, or follow us on Twitter at www.twitter.com/vabaypines.