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Posts Tagged ‘Healthcare’

As Congress Waits, America Freezes

Written by admin on . Posted in Blog

by Donald Whitehead

In January 2010, NCH released a report on Winter Services that detailed extended shelter hours and other services that work to decrease the risk of hypothermia deaths among people who are homeless. Hypothermia refers to the life-threatening conditions that can occur when a person’s core temperature drops below 95 degrees Fahrenheit.

NCH’s Winter Services report in 2010 found that 700 people experiencing or at-risk of homelessness are killed from hypothermia annually in the United States. A similar report from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) that looked at data from 1999 to 2003 found that on average 688 deaths each year were due to hyperthermia. While the CDC report does not mention the housing status of those who passed away due to heat-related illnesses, we can relate the risks to people who are homeless to the CDC’s recommendations for preventing hyperthermia.

Last year in Los Angeles, despite the typical sunshine and mild temperatures, five homeless people died of causes that included, or were complicated by, hypothermia, surpassing San Francisco and New York City, which each reported two deaths. Over the last three years, 13 people have died at least partly because of the cold in LA, the coroner’s office said. And advocates worry that increased cold, rainy winter will mean more fatalities.

This year, the pandemic will exacerbate these issues. The country is facing an explosion of individuals entering the homeless system as eviction moratoria and unemployment benefits expire. In the past faith-based organizations have come to the rescue in many cities providing Hypothermia Shelters on their properties. This year many of those faith-based facilities are shuttered due the rising number of COVID-19 cases nationwide. Even with the expected approval of a COVID vaccine before the end of 2020, it will take at least six to nine months to implement.

It is vitally important that communities utilize Cares Act Funds and ESG to house those living on the streets. As Congress waits America Freezes. Please call your Congressperson and ask them to pass a stimulus bill now.

What homeless folks should know about Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Written by admin on . Posted in Awareness, Blog, Healthcare

Updated 3/10/2020

With any public health or natural disaster emergency, those who are unhoused are often more at risk for poor health outcomes or other trauma. We understand that spread of communicable disease is much easier without adequate access to hygiene facilities or a safe home, so we wanted to share a few resources for those experiencing homelessness or service providers. 

The current outbreak of the novel corona virus that started in China spreads much the same way as the flu, through person to person contact, especially through droplets in the air produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Symptoms can include: fever, cough and shortness of breath.

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) believes at this time that symptoms of COVID-19 may appear in as few as 2 days or as long as 14 days after exposure. Most infections in healthy children and adults are mild, the greatest danger is with those who have health conditions that limit the capacity of one’s immune system.

While there are no confirmed cases of COVID-19 infection in someone experiencing homelessness in the U.S., we are concerned that people who already lack ready access to hygiene facilities, a safe home and in many cases, adequate health care, will be especially vulnerable to complications from the spread of the virus. To prevent spread of the virus, the CDC recommends washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing. If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty. 

But what if you don’t have anywhere to wash your hands, or a home to stay away from crowds?
 Read: What if you can’t stay home?

Our recommendations:

  • More broadly realize that everyone who may be experiencing homelessness would not be in as great a risk of poor health outcomes, or spread of COVID-19, if they had access to safe, decent, affordable and accessible housing. We still have a lot of work to do to address the underlying income inequality and lack of low-cost housing that has perpetuated homelessness for decades.
  • Ensure that national, state and community-level public health/pandemic planning and response includes the homeless population and homeless service agencies.
  • Cities should provide hygiene facilities (port-a-potties, hand-washing stations) and trash pickup for residents of encampments – during and after any pandemic has passed.
  • There should be a moratorium on encampment sweeps that displace already displaced households and that often cause the loss of personal property that includes medication and other life-sustaining items.
  • All tests, treatment and quarantine locations should be offered without cost for all members of the community – housed or not, with or without health insurance.
  • Each community should identify space that those who do not have a permanent home can access in case of quarantine. Any costs should come out of community-level public health resources.
  • Federally, we would discourage homeless dollars being used to provide quarantine, testing or treatment. Homeless services are already woefully underfunded, and widespread homelessness was ALREADY a public health emergency!
  • Finally, we are concerned for the safety of unhoused folks who may be discharged from medical care to make room for COVID-19 treatment. This has happened in other emergency settings.  

If you are:

  • Experiencing symptoms? Please go to your nearest hospital or healthcare facility. Click here to find your closes Healthcare for the Homeless clinic. 
  • A service agency administering to vulnerable folks? Click here for CDC Posters to post in public areas about the spread of COVID-19, and see the additional resources below. 
  • An outreach worker or concerned citizen, consider stocking up on bottles of hand sanitizer or wipes to hand out to folks staying in encampments or other outdoor locations. 

Resources:

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