THE CCHS PROJECT
AREN'T JUST FORGOTTEN
THEY ARE WILLFULLY IGNORED
WHO ARE THE CCHS?
Recently, we asked 100 homeless people at a feeding project in downtown Tucson, Arizona a simple question: "Would our healthcare system rather serve a housed person or a homeless person?"
100 out of 100 homeless people surveyed -- after they stopped laughing -- answered "housed."
We're sure this sobering fact comes as no surprise to you as well. However, the consequences of this perceived bias are unfortunate and dramatic:
• Because of how the homeless are treated by the healthcare system, they wait until they are very, very sick before they seek help.
• Because they wait so long, there is one, logical place to go when they finally go for care: our already overcrowded emergency departments.
• Because the homeless have a dramatically higher rate of traumatic injuries (frequently from assault), they often need a higher level of care than a housed patient.
• And because homeless persons have a much poorer health status than the housed population, they spend multiple nights in intensive and critical care units at a rate far exceeding the rate of the housed population.
This is a community health care emergency: a community health care emergency that is threatening the very existence of many hospitals.
One possible (and admittedly partial) solution? Street-based medical volunteers — RNs coupled with an EMR/EMT — overseen by a team of compassionate volunteer MDs. The goal? To develop relationships with the homeless on the street which allow early assessment, early referral, and -- consequently -- early care of their medical problems.
We call these volunteers CCHS: Certified Community Health Specialists
WHO ARE THE HOMELESS?
HOMELESS WOMEN AGED 18-44
ARE UP TO 31 TIMES MORE LIKELY TO DIE
THAN HOUSED WOMEN
WITH DRINKING PROBLEMS
HAVE 400 TIMES THE RATE
OF TRAUMATIC HEAD INJURIES
HOMELESS WOMEN & MEN ARE
MORE THAN 7 TIMES MORE LIKELY
TO DIE FROM DRUG ABUSE