How A Sick And Aging Homeless Population Is Fueling New Forms Of Healthcare

One Phoenix man's story is representative of many others across the country. How A Sick And Aging Homeless Population Is Fueling New Forms Of Healthcare Giphy

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The American healthcare system has long been plagued with problems from soaring costs to the denial of treatment for pre-existing conditions. But there’s one group of people particularly hard hit by the limitations of the status quo.

Vance’s story

For one Phoenix man, homelessness has been a way of life for five years. In addition to the stigma and various daily challenges Vance Blair has faced over that period, he’s also seen his health decline in a number of ways.

But when it comes to finding treatment for ailments and chronic conditions, Blair is just one of a growing number of homeless individuals who find frustrating roadblocks at every turn.

Even if Medicaid would provide coverage for a particular procedure, without a permanent residence in which to recover, healthcare providers often will not approve them.

In his case, a new type of facility has been offering assistance. It’s called Circle the City and provides something akin to nursing home care to Blair and others experiencing both homelessness and health problems.

He said the staff has addressed not only his physical needs, but also his emotional ones.

“After a while of being outside, I was having thoughts of not wanting to live anymore,” Blair explained. “This place has been a great help.”

The rise of respite care

Circle the City, which currently has room for about 50 patients, is not alone. It’s just one of the so-called “respite care” facilities that have been established in recent years.

Although Medicaid, the Affordable Care Act, and in some cases local hospitals have provided some of the funding needed to keep such organizations in operation, they also rely on donations from the public.

And as the homeless population becomes increasingly elderly and infirm, the need for respite care is likely to accelerate.

Chris Agee
Chris Agee June 11th, 2024
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