Local Healthcare - King County Services
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If we narrow down the homeless issue into the scope of healthcare support that is being provided, there is an urgent responsibility for society to monitor the overall health of the homeless population. Basic healthcare is necessary for any homeless individual who may not live in a healthy environment or lifestyle. The currently existing clinics in King County, Washington provide acceptable healthcare, but are disparate and scattered among different organizations.
King County Organizations
King County organizations that provide care for the homeless are: Health Care for the Homeless Network (HCHN), Committee to End Homelessness King County (CEHKC), United Way of King County, Downtown Emergency Services Center (DESC), SHARE/WHEEL, Housing Health Outreach Team (HHOT), YMCA, YWCA, Seattle Union Gospel Mission, The Compass Center, and a weekly newpaper called Real Change. Besides the ones listed, there are plently of more organizations and service committees for the homelesss.
Medical Care in the King County
There are both King County funded clinics and community-funded clinics in downtown Seattle. Some of the most common places homeless go for healthcare (and shelter as well) are: Angeline's Day Center, Harborview Medical Center, Pike Market Medical Center, Pioneer Square Medical Center, Public Health Clinics, Seattle Indian Health Board, Mary's Place, Country Doctor, and the Women's Wellness Center. Most of these clinics offer the same services, and some more than others. The services that these medical clinics usually provide are: primary health care with walk-in check ups, treating acute problems, metal health counselling and assistance, podiatry, management of chronic illness, diagnostic testing and prevention screening, physicals, nutritional support, AIDS screening, and more. According to the CEHKC, the health clinics that take care of the highest number of homeless are Harborview's Pioneer Square clinic and Pike Place Market Medical Center.
Are the homeless being treated?
People who have no health insurance tend to avoid seeking help for their health problems until their condition is unbearable and sometimes untreatable. Attention to health problems is often low on the priority list for people struggling to find shelter and food everyday. Studies show that "homelessness can cause bad health and that bad health can be the cause for homelessness".
In a survey that was taken by Suzanne Gillette, RN Nurse, in 2001 on thirty-eight homeless women, many of the participants reported that Seattle has the best group of services they have seen in the big cities. However, in this study there were many stories told of health care workers failing to understand what the homeless patient needs and sending the patient away with inadequate explanations of his or her health problems. Drug users complain of being treated poorly, in regards to their character and not their health. On top of that, many reported that the disconnected system of health care adds stress to finding the best hopsital or clinics that can help them.
Pike Market Medical Center
Gillette, Suzanne. Listen to Their Conversation Very Carefully: Homeless Women Talk About Their
Health and AIDS Prevention. 1. Seattle, WA: University Of Washington, 2001.
"Complete listing of Harborview Clinics and Services." Harborview Medical Center. Harborview
Medical Center. 15 Mar 2008 <http://uwmedicine.washington.edu/PatientCare/MedicalSpecialties/PrimaryCare/Harborview/Pi
"It All Starts At Home." The Ten-Year Plan to End Homelessness In King County. 2006. Committee To
End Homelessness King County. 26 Dec 2007
The image above was taken by Amy and Iris Davies. 30 Mar 2008. Seattle, Washington.