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      Healthcare For The Homeless Day

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      The number of homeless persons in the US is estimated at 552,830. Health care is a need encompassing all physical and behavioral conditions, spanning ages and socioeconomic situations. Its awareness should be highlighted to bolster care among everyone facing challenges of access.

      The National Coalition for the Homeless categorizes displaced people into three distinct types — chronic, transitional, and episodic. Chronic homelessness refers to those who consider shelter housing arrangements their permanent home. Transitional housing is relayed to those who go to shelters for a brief period, then transition into a more stable residence. Episodic refers to using facilities for homeless services due to personal problems they incur with mental health issues, unemployment, or substance abuse.

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      What is Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Day?

      HCH Day is sponsored annually by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council. It’s a part of National Health Center Week,  awareness and celebration of the National Health Care program’s goal of supplying care for all. Primarily organized by the National Association of Community Health Centers, its continuing aim is to serve all populations in the US regardless of socioeconomic or geographic conditions.

      HCH Day, Monday, August 9, focuses on the special population care provided by Health Care for the Homeless (HCH), through Community Health Centers that receive resources across the country.

      Each year consumers, clients, staff, and volunteers of HCH organizations hold events to highlight their work too:

      • Meet the basic health services needs of people without homes.
      • Continuously reduce health disparities.
      • Continue to strive to end homelessness.

      These awareness initiatives allow HCH projects to:

      • Build relationships with community partners.
      • Engage elected officials.
      • Show appreciation for the consumers, staff, and communities that support the vital work of HCH.

      The Value of Health Care for the Homeless

      Homelessness is a continuous barrier to sustainable health.

      Conditions including poor nutrition, deficient hygiene, weather-related illness and injury, and exposure to violence are frequent contributors. Increased risk of contracting communicable diseases, and the constant stress of housing and health care instability are also issues facing people experiencing homelessness.

      Higher rates of illnesses among homeless people are experienced three to six times more than those with stable housing. They also have a life expectancy 30 years shorter than those with homes.

      Making a tangible impact are HCH organizations working to supply critical health care services in a comprehensive, team-based model. This format seeks to address the interconnected health and social problems most homeless people face. The HCH projects are critical for meeting the basic care needs of the vulnerable population experiencing homelessness while reducing health disparities and moving towards ending homelessness in our country.

      HCH project objectives are to deliver these three areas of case management and care:

      • Localized care for those dispossessed. People are often hesitant to seek services from a system that has failed to meet their needs. Mounting competition to have their needs met can keep people in need away from clinic doors. Many HCH projects take treatment capabilities directly to neighborhood streets and shelters, actively looking for the most vulnerable in the area, and meeting them where they are.
      • Needed-based, specialized care for people who are unstably housed is attainable. This is achieved through patient, motivational interviewing, self-determined goal setting, and trauma-informed approaches to help patients and health care professionals provide beneficial outcomes.
      • Inclusive care, through a variety of caregivers needed to address the needs of the complete person, including, primary care, mental health, substance abuse, and social needs. Many HCH projects are also involved in necessity-inventive treatment models, including patient-centered medical homes, permanent supportive housing, and medical respite care programs. Each of these can lower system-wide costs and improve the health and stability of those facing the challenges of homelessness.

       

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