02 April 2009

Fourth Street Clinic

I was fortunate enough to be made aware of today's organization by a member of the  Fourth Street Clinic's fantastic Development team, Joseph Dane. Joseph was also kind enough to provide the following on the incredible work the Clinic does, and why our support is vital:

" Fourth Street Clinic is a nonprofit organization that works to end homelessness by providing comprehensive health care and support services to homeless Utahns. For many of our patients, we are their first and only chance at better health and a way out of homelessness.

Executive Director Allan Ainsworth, PhD. founded Fourth Street Clinic in 1988 to give Salt Lake City's homeless, uninsured, and often very sick population access to primary care service. Opening with a part-time nurse, Fourth Street Clinic is now a full-service health home that offers 6,000 patients coordinated primary care, behavioral health and pharmacy services. Services are provided by 40 staff members, 35 in-house m
edical volunteers and over 300 off-site specialists who see patients on a pro bono basis.

In working to end homelessness it is important to understand the interconnected relationship between health and housing: It is simply impossible too be successful in one without the other. People cannot pay for housing without the presence of good health; it is impossible to achieve good health without a safe, permanent home. Homelessness is very bad for your health evidenced by homeless people being three to six times as likely to experience illnesses than those who are housed. Also, bankruptcy is one of the major causes of homelessness, and half of all personal bankruptcies in the United States result from health problems.

For our patients, if poor health did not cause or contribute to their homelessness, then stress brought on by continuous exposure to extreme weather conditions, malnutrition, violence and communicable diseases and parasitic infestations quickly makes way for a number of chronic and acute health conditions. Common examples are circulatory, dermatological and musculoskeletal issues due to excessive walking, standing and sleeping while sitting up. Sleep deprivation, the emergence of mental illnesses and the need for relief offered by alcohol and drugs then often exacerbate and compound theses illnesses into urgent or emergency medical conditions.

With no health insurance and a life consumed by poverty, our homeless patients often come to Fourth Street Clinic with three or four chronic health conditions requiring continuous treatment, drug therapy and follow up. However it is here that we have found a turning point out of homelessness. Once our patients are properly diagnosed, begin treatments and feel well again, hope returns and housing soon follows.

So join us in providing basic, cost effective health care and a way out of homelessness to thousands of Utahns. $150 will fund one comprehensive office visit. $10 will fill a prescription. All gifts are tax deductible and will help save a life. Visit www.fourthstreetclinic.org today."

Thank you to the Fourth Street Clinic and, in particular, thank you Joseph for providing information about your organization and shining a spotlight on healthcare for the homeless and insured.

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