One of the most challenging aspects of working with the poor and homeless is their lack of health care. For many of our clients, their primary source of health care is the emergency room, for everything from legitimate illnesses and injuries to medical check ups, mental health visits and requests for medication.
Emergency rooms are the only places where people cannot be turned away based on their ability to pay. Therefore, our clients often spend long hours in the emergency room taking time away from other people who have actual emergencies. Denver has tried to counteract this problem with the Stout Street Clinic, a clinic where homeless people can receive services at no charge, but the problem is so massive.
Usually at least once a week we have to call the ambulance to transport an ill or injured person, because we are not allowed to make judgments about their condition. Yesterday the paramedics came twice. You know it is bad when you begin to know them by name!