“Go to the people” – this seemingly simple and yet powerful statement is a guiding principle for Street Medicine Detroit. Why practice Street Medicine? Why “go to the people” when in theory there are plenty of free clinics and Federally Qualified Health Centers where the homeless can access care?
Homeless people in Detroit continue to be unreached, unsheltered, and service-resistant. Since the launch of our program, we’ve been blessed to listen to the patients’ stories. We learned that we need to meet them where they are and ultimately build relationships through consistency and respect.
When we met with the Caritas Welcome Center (CWC), we were impressed by their genuine passion for serving the community. Often, it is difficult to find the right partnerships; yet, this one evolved naturally due to our common values and vision. CWC does a great job at ensuring that their facilities are a safe and judgment-free zone for the guests. Thus, Street Medicine Detroit can visit the same patients several times and better manage their health through continuity of care.
We’ve already seen cases of uninsured patients with uncontrolled diabetes and hypertension, both of which are chronic diseases that can have devastating outcomes if not managed on an ongoing basis. We bring the medications to treat these conditions. We aim to continue to provide follow-up care. Our work does not end there as we strive to build enough of a rapport that we can connect patients to housing and social services.
To do all of this for even one patient is an enormous challenge. Moving forward, we know that we can’t do it alone. This is why functional partnerships are important, and why we value the one we have with the Caritas Welcome Center. Standing together in solidarity, we aim to reintegrate our friends living on the street back into the system from which they have been excluded.
Jonathan Wong, MSII
President and Founder