Health for the Homeless
It’s estimated that over half a million people in the United States are homeless. While individuals and groups such as the National Alliance to End Homelessness are working to decrease that number, these people are in dire need of good healthcare. With exposure to the elements, poor nutrition, poor sleep etc, people who are homeless are at high risk for chronic diseases and behavioral conditions. While it seems there is someone on every corner of major cities holding a sign begging for help, a few dollars in their pocket just isn’t enough. Our National Healthcare Centers are doing what they can to bring health to the homeless.
Health Care centers across the nation provide quality healthcare to lower income Americans. The National Health Care for the Homeless Council provides funding specifically for those most vulnerable – the homeless community. In the course of a year, health centers were able to provide care for over 1 million Americans experiencing homelessness.
In addition to primary care, they provide behavioral health, chronic disease management, dental care, laboratory services and other specialty health care. They have even provided transportation, translation and social services. The NHCH seeks to provide health care as well as be an advocate for the homeless.
Health care providers are trained in trauma care, offering individuals dignity and respect. They know their situation best and each person’s experiences have been different. The homeless are often overlooked or carelessly grouped together. Each one once had a life just like anyone of us. They are someone’s daughter, son, mother, father, friend. Some risked their lives in our armed forces, others once had status and wealth. At our local health care centers, the goal is to treat them with the same importance as anyone else, since they possess that inherent value as human beings. The NHCH believes that housing and healthcare are basic human rights and they are fighting to provide that.
What Can We Do to Help?
By supporting policies improving conditions for the homeless you can affect lasting change that will go beyond a twenty-dollar bill on any given day. Visit the National Health Care for the Homeless website to find out how you can partner with them. Outside of contributing to the cause both financially and in policy, many health centers utilize volunteers. Find out if you can volunteer at your local health center or homeless shelter.
Spread awareness! On August 15, 2019, we will observe Healthcare for the Homeless Day. Take a look at our National Wellness Observance Calendar for more information and how to get involved.
Kindness goes a long way. It’s easy to judge what we don’t understand but actually makes very little sense for us to do. Shake a hand. Learn their names and call them by it. Make eye contact and share a smile. The day we lose compassion for those less fortunate than us is the day we truly lose ourselves.