Healthcare for the Homeless
Health and poverty in the United States have a complicated and intertwined relationship. Often, health issues can be the cause of poverty. Medical bills are still the main reason that Americans
file for bankruptcy, and for those with little to no savings even a seemingly minor illness or injur
can force people to go without food, utilities, or housing payments. People living in shelters are
more than twice as likely to have a disability
than the general population, according to the
Department of Housing and Urban Development.
On the other side of this difficult situation, poverty and homelessness can a
lso be the catalyst for
new or worsening health problems.
For patients who are homeless, properly storing medication, maintaining a healthy diet and consistently going to the doctor are hard to do when they are spending a goo
d deal of time trying to find a place to sleep.
Many people experiencing homelessness have also experienced trauma, either resulting from homelessness or in some way leading to it, according to a report from the National Alliance to End Homelessness.
Here at the Open Door Shelter, we have partnered with Norwalk Commu
nity Health Center to provide preventative and ongoing care for people in need in our community. Twice a week, their mobile health clinic arrives in front of the Shelter, and th
e health care professionals on board start seeing patients. Shelter case managers work with clients to help them get the treatment they need and continue to follow medical advice.
Thanks to the work that the Norwalk Community Health Center and The Open Door Shelter's case managers have done, we have been able to provide care to hundreds of people in need and reduce local emergency room visits by 52%.
Even this mobile program is not enough to meet the needs of the community. As of today, there is a two week waitlist of appointments for the mobile clinic. The Open Door Shelter is working to increase capacity to meet this need.