By Julie Cullen, Managing Editor, American Nurse Today
When you don’t know where your next meal will come from or where you’re going to sleep each night, high blood pressure, diabetes, and minor cuts and scrapes that can turn into serious infections become low priorities. That is until the condition or injury becomes so serious that you have to go to the emergency department, where you might or might not be treated with respect and dignity.
So, how can nurses and other healthcare professionals address this issue? Street medicine. A recent story on NPR covered the Mercy Care Street Medicine program in Atlanta, GA. Joy Fernandez de Narayan, a nurse practitioner, runs the program with support from other nurses, physicians, and social workers. They meet their patients where they live—homeless encampments, shelters, and food kitchens. The healthcare workers begin by building trust with their patients. They then help treat their medical conditions and connect them with other resources, such as mental health counseling and housing.
Street medicine programs operate in several cities across the United States. Visit streetmedicine.org to learn more.