The Care Zone team pairs veteran outreach workers with a doctor and a case manager. Ribeiro and Mackin, veteran street workers, typically make the first contact with an occupied sleeping bag. Dr. Jessie Gaeta, chief medical officer with the Boston Health Care for the Homeless Program, approaches once it’s clear that a new face won’t send the person back into hiding. She knows many of these prospective patients feel shunned by mainstream medicine.
"We’re trying to let people know we’re not there to arrest them. We’re not there to clean up their encampment and kick them out," Gaeta says. "All we want to know is, do we have something you need and want, and if we do, great, here it is. And so we gradually build a relationship that way."