10. Emergency Medicine

The words ‚ÄúJust because I‚Äôm homeless does not make me emotionless, careless, or useless‚ÄĚ are hand-written on a paper in dramatic fashion using different fonts and styles of lettering. Around the letters are hand drawn eyes and a rose.
Homelessness is only invisible if you refuse to open your eyes
Artist: Joe

People who experience homelessness often lack access to consistent and reliable primary care. As a result, many turn to emergency services ‚Äď such as a hospital emergency room (ER) ‚Äď when health care is needed. It may be that the person uses the ER as a substitute form of gaining access to a health care provider, or it may be that the person waits until a health care issue has become a crisis before they seek care. Either way, hospitals are a site where people experiencing homelessness encounter the health care system. At times it may be brief, such as an ER visit, or it may be extended contact, such as through longer-term hospital admissions.

This raises questions about the roles that hospitals can play in identifying persons experiencing homelessness and in serving as a site of intervention. If it is known that people who experience homelessness are likely, at some point, to access hospital care then we have an opportunity to reimagine the role that hospitals play in addressing and even preventing homelessness in Canada.


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Understanding Homelessness in Canada Copyright © 2022 by Kristy Buccieri, James Davy, Cyndi Gilmer, and Nicole Whitmore is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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