The medical clinic at the new Salt Lake Community Shelter and Resource Center is up and running, giving the facility for the homeless one more resource in helping those down on their luck.

Carrie Ryan, service coordinator and nurse at the clinic, said those living at the family and men's shelter already are making use of the facility and its four examination rooms.The clinic is open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and offers adult and pediatric medicine, prenatal care, well-child screening and education classes. Patients needing additional treatment are referred to the Central City Community Health Center or a local hospital.

Cathy Labatte, a Salt Lake County public health nurse assigned to the clinic, runs the wellness screening. The screening allows her to monitor nutritional and immunization needs as well as speech, vision and hearing problems. Several referrals on vision and speech problems have already been made to local providers.

"These are areas that are often neglected because of the other problems the families are experiencing at this time," Labatte said. Assisting Labatte is Rose Barbiera-Widdow-son, a family nurse practitioner.

Lorena Jackson, a physician's assistant from the Veterans Administration Hospital assigned to the clinic, said working with the men's shelter helps preventive work. "If we can catch some of these problems now, then these men won't end up at the hospital later," she said.

Ryan, an LDS Hospital nurse assigned to the clinic, said prevention is the program's key. Many homeless people put off medical attention until it becomes a crisis situation and they end up at local hospital emergency rooms. Ryan hopes establishing a clinic in an area frequented by the homeless will help prevent that type of situation.

While the free clinic is located in the shelter, it is open to any homeless person, whether they are a shelter resident or not, Ryan said.

Expectant and new mothers are referred to the federal Women, Infants and Children's program, which provides food vouchers for dairy products and other foods to help ensure that the mother and young children are getting needed nutrition.

The clinic is a joint venture of LDS Hospital, the Salt Lake Community Health Centers and the Veterans Administration Medical Center.