Japanese nursing graduate students recently visited Swope Health to learn more about how we care for our homeless patients.
Rachel Melson, Nurse Practitioner in the Outreach Department, led the students on a tour of Swope Health’s Central facility, highlighting the array of medical and behavioral health services we make available to all of our patients, including our homeless clients.
Rachel explained that the homeless community generally lacks access to medical care, so they receive less preventive care and fewer screenings, and generally face worse outcomes in hospitalizations than the general population. Chronic illness, such as diabetes, hypertension and heart disease, are common diagnoses, along with substance abuse and mental health conditions like bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, psychosis and depression.
The students took notes throughout and asked questions.
Some of the questions were about registration procedures (How do you know a patient’s income?), some were medical (What is PCP?) and some were political (How has healthcare changed under President Trump?). The most intriguing questions were personal: Why do you do this? What is most important to you?
“Our goal is for people to leave healthier than when they came in,” Rachel said. “It’s all about connecting. If I give someone a medication but don’t make a connection, we’re not helping. It’s about making a connection and meeting the patients wherever they are, addressing whatever they need.”
The students are training for nursing professions in public health settings.