Thursday, November 10, 2005

Health care for the homeless and impoverished

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!

Saying No

Today we had a discussion about saying no to our clients. Oftentimes, I feel like that is all I do. They have crazy requests and I say no, because we cannot accomodate them or there are too many people. However, saying no to an easy answer is saying yes to the women as people. Saying no means that I have faith in them as people to find their own solutions and make strides towards self-sufficiency. I have never thought about it that way before.