How Can Local Healthcare Providers Help Reduce Homelessness in Travis County, Texas?

Travis County, Texas is home to a number of organizations that are dedicated to providing healthcare to the homeless. Community Care is one such organization that visits well-known camps in Austin three days a week, as well as areas referred to them by community members. The City of Austin also works tirelessly to help the homeless through various programs and partnerships. Research has revealed that homeless people suffer from a variety of health issues.

For healthcare providers, it can be difficult to show empathy in the right context. The Dell Med Community-Driven Initiatives Program is designed to improve the health of communities and neighborhoods in Austin, Travis County and Central Texas through personalized support tactics. ECHO is the primary agency responsible for planning and implementing strategies to end homelessness in Austin and Travis County. As the designated HMIS manager, ECHO manages Continuum data in the Homeless Management Information System (HMIS).

Every quarter, 16 providers participate in a conference call to discuss successes and challenges related to operating the PATH program. Mercer has classified homeless people into two categories: those who live in shelters and those who don't. The team found that the program was effective in reducing some adverse mental health problems and decreasing the number of times people in the study went to the emergency room. The Homeless Outreach Street Team (HOST) is an initiative that operates in downtown Austin and west campus, and occasionally helps other parts of the city address the needs of people living on the street. The Austin Homelessness Advisory Council (AHAC) is a group of approximately 15 people with lived experiences with homelessness in Austin.

African-Americans make up 8-10% of the general population in Austin, but 30-40% of the homeless population is African-American. The University of Texas at Austin now offers a 12-hour graduate course to teach empathy for the homeless through experiential learning, with a special focus on the correlation between homelessness and mental illness. Mercer said they are prioritizing enrollment for black people “because systemic racism is one of the causes of homelessness across the country and in every state”.At a public meeting on Wednesday, medical professionals from Dell Medical Center and Community Care discussed what organizations are doing to provide healthcare to an increasing number of homeless people in Austin.

Bradford Fazzi
Bradford Fazzi

Professional tv fanatic. Award-winning bacon junkie. Evil music expert. Lifelong food ninja. Amateur social media geek.

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