KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — Knox Area Rescue Ministries gives thousands of people who are homeless beds, meals and support. Now, KARM is looking to provide medical assistance along with everything else.

After receiving a $150,000 grant to build an onsite clinic at its main campus, KARM may be able to start giving people medical care. The grant came from the Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee. Trinity also gave grants to East Tennessee Children's Hospital, Emory Valley Center and The Restoration House for similar projects.

“Our guests suffer from a number of health issues,” KARM's president Burt Rosen said in a press release. “Compounding these problems is that, due to their lack of income and transportation and their lack of knowledge about how to address health issues, their health often continues to deteriorate. Thanks to Trinity’s grant, KARM now has a great opportunity to provide access and simple solutions in a timely manner to resolve many of our guests’ healthcare needs."

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The clinic will be built in collaboration with other health care providers in Knoxville. KARM will work alongside the Knox County Health Department, American Medical Response (AMR) and various local nursing programs to staff it and put it together.

KARM also believes that the clinic will help the broader Knoxville community by alleviating pressure from the city's emergency responders. The clinic hopes to cut down on the number of trips ambulances and first responders make to KARM to transport people to emergency rooms.

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An uptick in the number of people seeking services

A report from the Knoxville Homeless Management Information System found that more people are seeking help from services like KARM. It showed that there was a 3% increase in the number of people accessing support services, now at 9,183.

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The report also identified three leading, self-reported causes of homelessness. Of the people that the sought support in 2018, 26% said they were accessing services due to an inability to find affordable housing.

Another 23% said losing their job caused them to seek support. 9% identified substance abuse as a cause of homelessness.

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The new clinic may help people get back on their feet after facing one of these causes. KARM said it will be able to intervene in dangerous situations. The clinic can also help the organization educate people about health services and health in general.

“We are grateful for this grant and excited about the positive impacts this clinic will have in our guests’ lives. Better healthcare leads to better recovery outcomes—and that’s a win for the entire community” Rosen said.