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• The Homeless Get Sick; ‘Street Medicine’ Is There for Them (David Montgomery, Stateline, Pew Charitable Trust, 9-18-18) “Street medicine,” which had only a few resolute practitioners when it got its start in the mid-1980s, has surged within the past decade, growing into a network of programs in over 85 cities and in 15 countries. In the United States, street medicine programs are operating in more than 20 states and at least 45 cities, including New York, Chicago, Atlanta, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, Detroit and Washington, D.C.So-called point-in-time estimates by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development placed the number of homeless people at 553,742 in 2017. Two-thirds, or 360,867, were in emergency shelters or transitional housing. The remaining third, or 192,875, were in unsheltered locations — making them most vulnerable to threatening diseases and physical abuse.
• The Street Medicine Movement (YouTube video, Jim Withers, TEDxPittsburgh, 7-20-15) Withers is the internal medicine physician who began providing medical care to Pittsburgh’s unsheltered homeless population in 1992. He is also the founder of Operation Safety Net, a street medicine program in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. For the past 23 years, Dr. Withers has been working with the homeless population to provide free medical care by going from one bridge to the next to assist homeless individuals in need. As a 2014 Huffington Post article on Dr. Withers stated, “What started off as two people offering free medical treatment has since grown into a national network of medical students and volunteers who go out to treat the homeless four nights a week.”
• Street Medicine: Medical Outreach for Unsheltered People (Ad, National Health Care for the Homeless Council) “Street medicine” is the practice of providing medical care to unsheltered people experiencing homelessness in locations like encampments, parks, and under bridges.Dr. Jim Withers first coined the concept of “street medicine” in the 1980s and founded the Street Medicine Institute, an international organization that aims to advance street medicine as a distinct health care discipline. Soon after, Dr. Philip Brickner in New York City used the street medicine approach to create the Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) model of care in the mid-1980s. Today, the Street Medicine Institute estimates 50 independent street medicine programs operate across the country, funded in a variety of ways.
• Narrative Medicine: A Way Out (Corinne T. Feldman, Clinical Advisor, 2-25-22) In the practice of street medicine, which is the direct delivery of primary care to people experiencing homelessness living in parks, underpasses, and abandoned buildings, we have the privilege of witnessing those lives lived as society casually passes by, seemingly blinded to the suffering happening at their feet.
• Safeguarding Our Communities: Get to Know Your Lifeguards (Corinne T. Feldman, Clinical Advisor, 2-25-22)
• Street Medics Battle Bureaucracy to Bring Health Care to the Homeless (Jack Ross, Capital and Main, 6-28-21) Street medicine originated on the East Coast in the early 1990s; today, street teams treat the homeless from Brazil to Russia. In California the programs are now widespread, but current state health care law is preventing teams from treating their patients, street medics say, even as California’s homeless population grows past 160,000.
The Street Medicine Act (AB-369), a new bill under debate in the California State Senate, tries to remove those barriers. It seeks recognition of the street as a legitimate place to deliver medical care, a place where patients can bill Medi-Cal and access benefits like X-rays, lab work and specialized treatment just as they would in a doctor’s office. It will make it easier to take life-saving treatment to the people who need it most.
“We create laws and systems with an expectation that people meet the government where the government is,” says state Sen. Sydney Kamlager. “This is an opportunity to meet people where they are,” says Kamlager. “We have a system that creates all kinds of barriers of access to folks who are homeless.”
• Street Medicine—The Challenge of Earning Homeless Patients' Trust (YouTube video, JAMA Network, 2-5-20)
• Finding patients where they live: Street medicine grows, along with homeless population (Soumya Karlamangla, LA Times, 2-16-20) Brett Feldman leads a four-person medical team that offers care to some of the sickest people in Los Angeles by meeting them where they live, on the street. The patients don’t have to schedule appointments, find transportation to the clinic, pick up prescriptions or pay for their treatment — barriers that make homeless people much sicker and more likely to die. This team is one of several providing medical care on the street for L.A. County’s growing homeless population. These so-called street medicine teams are multiplying nationwide, with more than 90 across the country and some doctors weighing whether the practice should be taught in medical schools. The shift acknowledges not just the humanity of homeless people but also a nationwide failure to house them and provide healthcare to everyone who needs it.
• What You Need to Know about Street Medicine Movement and Homeless Healthcare (Rohit Varma, 11-13-18)
• Street Medicine: Bringing Healthcare to the Homeless Community (Ad, Cynthia Griffith, Invisible People, 8-20-21)
• Million-Dollar Murray (Malcolm Gladwell, New Yorker, 2-13-06) Why problems like homelessness may be easier to solve than to manage