Articles, Blog

Street Medicine—The Challenge of Earning People’s Trust

February 6, 2020


Homeless folks will avoid seeking
care until the last possible moment. They have to be to the point where
they can’t get up and live their life, they physically can’t drag themselves around,
they have a fever, they’re hallucinating. That is when they will finally
submit to going to the emergency room. A handful of our clients are very
aggressive about their own wound care. They’ll clean their pocketknife and actually
debride off dead tissue around wounds to avoid having to go
into the ER on their own. Yeah, that’s the level of sort
of avoidance we’re working with where they’re willing to do that. [ Music ]>>Want to give it a slam?>>I think it’s okay.>>Just for Noam?>>Yes, sir.>>It’s Monday morning. We’re getting caffeinated. The van runs on caffeine without a doubt. So we’ve got all our medical supplies loaded up. They were all stocked yesterday. We brought some of our food for
our normal giveaways, such as socks, warm blankets, jackets and the like. [ Music ] >>People on the street have a lot of walls. They have a lot of walls. We can never know until we engage and
get to know them what their issue is, but the main thing is to build a
relationship with them because, you know, homeless people need friends, they need somebody
they can trust, they need somebody that’s going to show up when they say they’re going to show
up or when they can’t show up at least get in contact with them and let
them know they still coming. [ Music ]>>I grew up, I was born and raised here. I went to that school down the street, Avondale,
you know, the neighborhood has changed a lot. It used to be kind of affordable here. Gentrification has hit it hard, you know. It’s kind of weird how I made like a big
circle and came back to here, you know. Well, my name is Dave. I’m 57 years old. I don’t know what else you want to know. I’ve got a little addiction problem. That’s part of the reason I’m out here. I’m trying to battle it. It’s hard. Worked all my life, you know,
I’ve raised my family, I’ve had houses, you know, I’ve had all of that. It just seemed like I hit
50 and went [making sound]. I had some health problems, lost my job,
had a couple of surgeries and, of course, that got me hooked on painkillers and it
just kind of drifted off into that, you know. [ Music ] The times I’ve been in the emergency room,
you know, I had to go to the emergency room, you know, and I try to be truthful and honest,
you know, I mean they want to give me something for pain and I’ve got to tell them, you
know, hey, one Vicodin isn’t going to do it. I have a habit, you know, and it
seems like that just flicks the switch and they have a whole general
outlook of what you’re about, you know, and you get judged a lot more. I barely go to the doctor
because of that, you know. [ Traffic sounds ]>>The type of care that we provide here it’s
just like a primary care clinic on wheels. We deal with high blood pressure, we deal with
hyperthyroidism and those kinds of things, asthma, COPD, things that you deal
with in a regular clinic except it’s in this setting, right, so
it’s a big difference. Yeah, okay, [inaudible]. >>Yeah, it’s infected, okay. We’ll get you that. So, asthma care. [ Music ] I did primary care as a nurse practitioner
for 5 years before getting to this job and you have a clock, a stop watch in your
mind and out here you need to unplug the clock. When you’re engaging someone about
something completely non-medically related, that’s just as important in the job
because it’s going to create that relationship to get them to that medical care. There’s the numbers we can easily
talk about which are, you know, the ER visits that we prevent
by getting treatment to people. When we get them in the primary care,
the follow-up care that we do for folks so they don’t get back to the ER, those
are very Western-friendly tangible things that we can talk about and they’re very
important, but there’s a lot more that goes into it and a lot more advantages
that we see every day. [ Music ] This is why most providers, nurses, social
workers, doctors get into the field is to be with people and help people and it’s through
our training and the realities of the system that we have to pull back from that,
but street medicine is exactly that. You go to where they are and
you meet them where they’re at. It’s what, it’s providing love and care like
we wanted to when we were in school and that’s, we’re lucky enough to be able to do that daily. [ Music ]

1 Comment

  • Reply Striker One February 5, 2020 at 6:53 pm

    This society is ill, these people are awesome

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