In New York, a medical team ventures out on the streets to treat the homeless. The street medicine program is sponsored by the Center for Urban Community Services. Homelessness requires some severe living and hardship. Fear of authority, shame, and mistrust of the system create a downward circle that gets smaller every day.
To counteract these negative effects, two nurses make contact with the homeless, reports the Huffington Post. Each nurse is partnered with a social worker who has been doing street outreach. The nurses do assessments, referrals, and treatment. Housing and psychiatric care are what the social workers have to offer.
The team approach works better than when the social workers are alone on the street. 200 homeless a year can be reached with this technique. This program is based on Boston Health Care for the Homeless, a successful homeless outreach and follow-up program. They have been in operation since 1985. Their common sense approach states that if they will not come to us, we will go to them.
The more serious health problems of the homeless include foot problems, open sores, diabetes, and high blood pressure. All of these conditions are exacerbated by poor health. There is limited health care that can be done on the street. Blood work cannot be done because the temperature cannot be controlled. This medical unit is on foot after all. Long-term care must be set up with a clinic or hospital.
Some of the homeless are in denial about their medical issues. Others have had a negative experience when dealing with a clinic or hospital. The lines of communication are opened by the street interaction with a medical professional. 60,000 homeless people live in shelters in New York. Another 2800 homeless people are estimated to be out on the street.