MACH OneHealth Welcomes Brenda Konkel as Executive Director

MACH OneHealth is pleased to announce the recent hire of Brenda Konkel as the first paid Executive Director of MACH OneHealth. This was made possible through the generous funding of the Wisconsin Partnership Program.

“As we enter the rapidly evolving landscape of COVID-19 and it’s immediate and impending impact on some of our most vulnerable members of our community, there is no one who is better suited to serve in this vital role to ensure that our family on the streets and in the shelters are cared for.” said Garrett Lee, co-founder and president of MACH OneHealth. “As a budding social change agent, I first gained confidence in addressing homeless issues through Brenda’s direct support so this announcement is a stanza of poetic justice. We are delighted to welcome Brenda into an organization that strives for the systems change that she has been championing tirelessly during her extensive career.”

“I’m greatly honored to be chosen to lead this vital volunteer organization that has been doing crucial work in our community serving people without homes for the past several years.” said Brenda Konkel. “It’s such an incredibly important time in our community to make sure that the volunteers at MACH OneHealth get the needed support to adapt, fill gaps and grow services for people without homes amid this COVID-19 crisis.”

The immediate goals of MACH OneHealth during this pandemic are to establish new ways to continue to provide services in the community including

  • Establishing a telemedicine program for people without homes.
  • Supporting front line non-medical workers who have medical questions.
  • Supporting ongoing education about self care during the COVID-19 epidemic
  • Re-committing to systems change advocacy for health equity and people without homes

“Brenda is a venerable advocate for people experiencing homelessness and other marginalized individuals in and around Dane County. We are excited for her to join our team, particularly at such a critical time for our community under threat from COVID-19.” Said Michael Horowitz, Medical Director for the Madison Street Medicine Initiative, Emergency Medicine PA and APP Education Lead at UW Health.” Her expertise and drive will help MACH OneHealth respond to ensure that our community receives equitable healthcare during this unprecedented crisis.”

See attached for additional information about MACH OneHealth and Brenda Konkel.

About MACH OneHealth

Madison Area Care for the Homeless (MACH) OneHealth envisions that individuals experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity in Dane County have equitable healthcare and housing. We are on a mission to bridge gaps in the local healthcare system by connecting with people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity with compassion and respect. In everything we do, we integrate and uphold our values of compassion, respect, trust, empathy, justice, and co-creation.

MACH OneHealth was born by going to people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity and listening to them voice their health needs and desires through community needs assessments. People experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity informed us that there are significant barriers to getting the healthcare they need, despite an overwhelming majority having health insurance. To address these needs, MACH OneHealth co-created Foot Care Clinics, Street Medicine, and Care Connections services to bridge gaps and serve our community where they are at. MACH OneHealth remains dedicated to including the voices of people with lived experience at all levels of our work in order to improve health outcomes and wellbeing.

Community Health Needs Assessment (CHNA) – In 2016, we learned about the healthcare needs and barriers of 128 people experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity. The CHNA is a way to listen to and center the voices and needs of our clients in the design and development of the care that we deliver. We plan and hope to be repeating the CHNA in 2020 in partnership with Public Health Madison & Dane County to update our understanding and continue to prioritize the needs of our clients.

Foot Care Clinic & Spa (FCC) – Since March 2016, we have provided foot soaks, medical care and new socks and shoes to over 700 housing insecure individuals. In 2016-2018, we hosted the Foot Care Clinics at First United Methodist Church (FUMC) in downtown Madison to build on the trusting relationship our clients have with FUMC. In 2019, we began offering the Foot Care Clinic & Spa at the Beacon homeless resource center. In 2020, we have planned 10 FCCs at the Beacon and are poised to offer the service as requested at other trusted locations, though encounters such as these are suspended during the “safer at home” directives for the time being.

Madison Street Medicine Initiative (MSMI) – In collaboration with the UW-Madison School of Medicine and Public Health, we successfully launched the Madison Street Medicine Initiative with the support of a two-year grant from the UW-Madison Baldwin Grant. In accordance with the Street Medicine Institute’s motto, “go to the people,” MSMI continues to deliver healthcare and connect with unsheltered or recently sheltered individuals to build their trust in the healthcare system and improve their health.

Care Connections – In order to continue building relationships and trust, our Care Connections team follows up with our clients to coordinate and facilitate medical care and support and coordinate client appointments, to meet their whole health needs.

About Brenda Konkel

Brenda Konkel has 30 years working and volunteering for nonprofits and community groups in the City of Madison. Brenda served for 23 years as Executive Director of the Tenant Resource Center. She currently serves on the boards of Occupy Madison and the Social Justice Center (founding member). She was instrumental in helping to create the cooperative Occupy Madison Tiny House Village for people formerly without homes. Brenda has been an active member of the Homeless Services Consortium serving on multiple committees and has been a vocal advocate for people without homes. She has served on the board of nearly a dozen other nonprofits.

Brenda served as an alder for 8 years on the Madison City Council (2001-2009) and has served as the Common Council President (2004-2005). She is a local government blogger (forwardlookout.com) and active in local government politics through Progressive Dane and multiple community advocacy groups. She is currently serving as the Chair of the City of Madison Public Safety Review Committee.

Brenda holds a J.D. from UW-Madison Law School and B.A. in Criminal Justice from UW-Platteville.