Nurse Sonia Goodwin and Dr Nova Evans, founders of Sunny Street, are chasing $80K in crowdfunding to expand their homeless medical service. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.
Nurse Sonia Goodwin and Dr Nova Evans, founders of Sunny Street, are chasing $80K in crowdfunding to expand their homeless medical service. Photo Patrick Woods / Sunshine Coast Daily.

Ray of hope for Gympie’s growing homeless and vulnerable

MOBILE outreach and healthcare provider for homeless and vulnerable individuals, Sunny Street, has announced plans to open a clinic in Gympie.

READ MORE: Doctor and nurse quit their jobs to help Gympie’s homeless

“We are excited to roll out Sunny Street clinics throughout Australia and be the country’s first nationally coordinated healthcare service for people sleeping rough and doing it tough,” says Dr Nova Evans, co-founder and medical director at Sunny Street.

READ MORE: Bringing health and sunshine to life’s darkest moments

“Sunny Street will soon launch new clinics in Logan, Ipswich and Gympie, followed by Melbourne, Sydney, Adelaide, and Townsville.”

“There are 3.24 million people living below the poverty line in Australia, this includes 774,000 children. Some of these Australians are homeless or living in extremely impoverished and overcrowded dwellings, and often they experience significant barriers to accessing healthcare. With the Sunny Street expansion, we will improve access to healthcare for those Australians living below the poverty line,” says Dr Evans.

Sunny Street’s approach has already proven to remove the barriers to healthcare for those sleeping rough and doing it tough.

HEALING WORK: Sunny Street founders doctor Nova Evans and nurse Sonia Goodwin with social work student and volunteer Damien Pascoe at Gympie's Salvation Army headquarters in Stumm Road.
HEALING WORK: Sunny Street founders doctor Nova Evans and nurse Sonia Goodwin with social work student and volunteer Damien Pascoe at Gympie's Salvation Army headquarters in Stumm Road.

Sonia Goodwin, Sunny Street co-founder and nursing director, says “there are a lot of reasons why people can’t access primary healthcare in traditional medical settings, whether it be transport, feeling overwhelmed by the system or losing hope.

“People experience a lot of stigma, shame and feelings of judgement. I’ll never forget one particular patient who told us that he had trouble getting an appointment with a GP for his wounds. Finally, someone agreed to treat him - in the back of a car park! The shame and stigma he felt, turned him away from traditional healthcare, and he began to manage his wounds with toilet paper. He’d been doing this for four years when we found him. We were able to regularly work with him to treat his wounds.”

COPYRIGHT WARNING for Moreton Life ONLY. Phone Kylie Knight 3480 8226. Business Moreton Bay Region interactive luncheon at the Eatons Hill Hotel. Sonia Doodwin and Dr Nova Evans, Sunny Street (Mobile health outreach to people on the streets). Picture: Dominika Lis
COPYRIGHT WARNING for Moreton Life ONLY. Phone Kylie Knight 3480 8226. Business Moreton Bay Region interactive luncheon at the Eatons Hill Hotel. Sonia Doodwin and Dr Nova Evans, Sunny Street (Mobile health outreach to people on the streets). Picture: Dominika Lis

“At Sunny Street, we remove barriers by going to where homeless and vulnerable individuals are. You don’t need an appointment or medicare card, you don’t need to pay, and your consultation doesn’t have a time limit. If patients need further medical care, we make sure they get it,” says Ms Goodwin.

The barriers to healthcare that homeless and vulnerable individuals experience puts significant pressure on the public health system.

“Often, emergency departments are frequently used by people experiencing homeless and complex vulnerabilities for issues that could be more efficiently and effectively addressed in a primary healthcare setting,” says Dr Evans.

“Sunny Street clinics are a preventable cost to the health system as a whole”.

“In a recent survey of Sunny Street patients, 92 per cent reported avoiding having to go to the hospital because of our clinics.”

“The average presentation to Australian emergency departments is $751, not including further treatment admissions or follow up costs. Sunny Street is seeing people before they end up in hospital and saves the healthcare system a lot of money,” says Dr Evans.

Founded on the Sunshine Coast, Sunny Street clinics have been operating in southeast Queensland for 18 months. In the last nine months, their volunteers have had over 6000 conversations and consultations with patients across the region.

Sonia Goodwin and Di Bennett from Sunny Street
Sonia Goodwin and Di Bennett from Sunny Street

This week, Sunny Street launched a GoFundMe campaign to help raise much-needed funds to support the expansion of their services.

“Sunny Street clinics rely on the support from volunteers, but there is also a financial cost, such as laptops, wound care products, clinical equipment, vehicles, fuel, insurances etc.”

“We need to raise $80,000 to help support the expansion of our services,” says Dr Evans.

The mobile healthcare provider plans to secure the company’s financial future via grants and corporate sponsorship, but in the meantime, they are asking for donations via their GoFundMe page. Donations can be made at www.gofundme.com/sunny-street-healthcare.

About Sunny Street:

Sunny Street is a mobile outreach unit with doctors, nurses, paramedics and nurse practitioners providing healthcare services for homeless and vulnerable individuals and families.

Sunny Street clinics make it easier for people to access healthcare services and give their patients the opportunity to sit and have a genuine conversation with a medical professional. Sunny Street relies on the support from volunteer doctors, nurses, paramedics and nurse practitioners who take the time to get to know their patients and develop an understanding of their (often complex) health concerns.

Sunny Street clinics currently operate across southeast Queensland, with plans to expand nationally over the next 12-months.