Posts Tagged ‘university of souther california’

The Street Medicine Institute and I share a vision where all neighbors sleeping on the streets around the world will have access to healthcare in a location and manner acceptable to them. Over the last decade I’ve witnessed this vision inch closer in cities all around the world and I’ve had the honor to serve the most genuine and loving people you could imagine. I’ve witnesses the evolution of reality based medicine in the Lehigh Valley from in front of my backpack.  When the DeSales Free Clinic opened in 2007 it was the only healthcare being provided directly to the homeless in the area but now there are 10 clinics, a sprawling street presence, a medical respite and the ability to enter any hospital in search of our people. The communities as a whole has galvanized support and started a winter shelter in Allentown, Bethlehem and Easton, where before there were none. If a new person is seen panhandling off any freeway within hours we are called with hopes we can provide some help to the person. Most often, the call comes from someone outside of the healthcare field who just wanted to do something to help. There is still much work to do but the community is strong and our team at LVHN is getting stronger every day supported by senior leadership that not only understands the mission, but has allowed our belief that everybody matters to infiltrate ALL patient care to the benefit of so many.

In December 2016 I was asked by Dr. Kevin Lohenry, the Director of the University of Southern California (USC) PA Program, to deliver the Keynote address for their White Coat Ceremony and for the first time in my adult life I witnessed the intense poverty and immense number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Los Angeles.  The streets look like a post-apocalyptic wasteland of humanity. As I stepped over the bodies using the streets as their living room, bedroom and outhouse on the same corner, I felt utterly useless to help them and needed to learn more. Over the subsequent months, Corinne and I met with the dedicated servants of the homeless in LA working for various agencies and FQHCs all sharing a common goal. Although the number of homeless has risen over 20% from the year prior, there was a palpable sense of renewal and drive to push harder. The citizens of LA felt the same way and voted to increase their own taxes with funds going to help the homeless. With the belief that, “an excellent private research university should take on the most intractable, multifaceted problems of our time,” the USC Provost, Michael Quick, announced that USC will play a large role in the effort to solve homelessness in LA. It seemed that the large number of rough sleepers in LA was only outpaced by unwavering desire to help them.

It is on this back drop that Corinne and I have made the decision to join the many incredible and talented servants trying so hard to help our neighbors experiencing homelessness in LA. In April, I will begin as the new Director of Street Medicine at USC.  Corinne will serve as faculty in the USC PA Program and will have time set aside for working with me on the street team and pursuing much needed research on the rough sleeping population. It’s our hope to contribute in our simple way to the complex work needed on the streets of LA. It’s our aim to further an understanding of our friends sleeping rough through research so that we may all better meet not just their needs, but help them renew their dreams as well. If we are to fulfill the vision that all people sleeping on our streets will have access to healthcare then there will need to be many more street medicine programs and providers throughout the world. There is no better training ground than LA, and no University more poised to dissect this issue. With this in mind, we will be working on the creation a pipeline of well-trained providers in the art and clinical acumen needed to practice street medicine properly will be created.

My time at LVHN serving the homeless in the community along-side so many special people has been the honor of a lifetime. I leave behind a team that I have no doubt will take great care of our patients and continue the work much better than I could ever have done.

We begin our work in LA with the blessing of obedience to HIS work. Not on a new mission, but a continuation of the same. He has given us the inspiration and grace to begin. As our mission moves forward, you will be able to follow our journey at streetmedicinela.org. Corinne and I humbly ask for your prayers as we continue our journey of walking with the homeless

Sincerely Yours,

Brett

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