It's a lot more complicated to be unhoused – often times the stories we hear don’t fit into stereotypes we’ve grown up believing. Relationships break through the stereotypes, and it is my honor to walk along folks who need this support. Everyone should have an open door to start over.
Access to care is one of the most significant challenges individuals experiencing homelessness face. Night shelter navigators connect guests with referral services such as ID replacement, housing vouchers, employment opportunities, and medical and mental health providers. Understanding that so much about getting healthy is simple access, City Care in May 2023 launched a mobile outreach and transportation initiative – a fleet of vehicles providing no-cost daily transportation to referral agencies and wraparound services. Advocates are staffed on each vehicle as case managers for riders as they travel to their destinations.
Medical respite care is another very evident gap. Since opening, the shelter has made more than 1,000 calls to emergency services. Many shelter guests live with chronic illnesses complicated by mental health or substance use disorders that result in repeat hospital stays, frequent ER visits and high health care costs. When discharged, many lack access to a clean, stable home for recuperation. From 2020 to 2022, the number of hospital discharges that resulted in a patient returning to homelessness rose 45% in Oklahoma.
For Adam, a community issue deserves a community response, and that is just what he and City Care help facilitate. The collective lived experiences of those receiving support helped crystalize the organization’s next steps – building somewhere for people to stay and receive care when they aren’t sick enough to stay in the hospital but aren’t well enough to be discharged on their own. City Care is starting to plan for land acquisition and construction of a medical respite facility that will bridge a gap in the continuum of care and thus advance health equity.
City Care Stats
- Night Shelter
- Served about 4000 people in under 2 years
- Served 75 different families
- Only place available where they can bring a pet
- 5000 pets checked in
- Storage area – can bring belongings
- 120 units of permanent housing
- Staff estimate that, on average, they serve 10 unique individuals per month who require ongoing nursing care but do not have a viable environment to receive that care
- Whiz Kids – Advancing reading skills in the context of health literacy
- Serve over 550 kids in grades 1-5 at 28 locations
Examples of Impact
- Night shelter guests get the treatment they need, from stabilizing income to sobriety, as well as support to accomplish each task necessary to transition out of homelessness
- Serves as the ground floor after people fall through all of the social safety nets
- Practically, people experiencing homelessness face basic health concerns because their ability to maintain healthy habits almost disappears
- Partnered with local dental clinic already providing free care to those in need and applied for new grants locally to scale and finance a dental care component of the supportive communities program
- Raised over $50k to help pay for residents’ needed dental work from fillings to implants
- Another partnership supported the oral health literacy component of Whiz Kids, supplying each child with hygiene kits and resources to learn lifelong healthy habits
Health Equity Heroes
Meet the 2023 Health Equity Heroes
Bridget Saffold, MSN, MPH, RN
Founder, Focus on Diabetes
Executive Director and CEO, Sacramento District Dental Society and Foundation
Christina T. Rosenthal, DDS, MPH
Founder, Determined to be a Doctor Someday (DDS)
Gail Tessier Brown, JD, MSW
Director, NH Oral Health Coalition
Joel Bervell, MD Candidate
Social Media Medical Educator, Washington State University
Vice President of Integrative Program Development and Clinical Innovation, Commonwealth Care Alliance
Richard C. Black, DDMS, MS
Rick and Ginger Francis Endowed Dean, Woody L. Hunt School of Dental Medicine & Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center El Paso
Tammy Simmons, MS, CCC-SLP
Co-Founder, Executive Director, ACCESS
The newsletter designed for anyone who wants to improve oral health for themselves, their families, customers or communities.