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Community Council For The Homeless enables homeless and formerly homeless adults in the upper Northwest area of the District of Columbia to rebuild their lives with the involvement of the community.
Living on the streets can age someone 10 years in just one year, yet many homeless people won't seek medical care if they have to go through a lot of red tape to get it. At Friendship Place, there's no red tape, no appointment needed. Consumers can walk in off the street and see the doctor or nurse on a walk-in basis.
Through Unity Health Care, Dr. Amy Kossoff has been staffing the Friendship Place medical clinic for the past 10 years. She understands that living on the streets is hard on the body and the mind, and she treats every patient with respect and dignity. In the words of one patient, úShe is a wonderful lady, the politest, kindest person I have ever met. Ě Another says, úInstead of just telling you what she thinks, she allows you to share, and then she helps you. She does it in a manner that doesn't take away your humanity. Ě
If one of her patients needs to see a specialist, Dr. Kossoff taps her network of health care colleagues to find someone who will provide pro bono care. When a patient is admitted to the hospital, Amy is often the first person they see in the morning and the last person they see in the evening.
Their medical clinic provides about 700 consultations a year to men and women whose illnesses might otherwise go untreated.
Friendship Place is the only place in upper northwest D.C. where homeless men and women can receive free psychiatric care. Their philosophy is to remove barriers to the care that homeless neighbors so desperately need. Consequently, psychiatric services are unusually accessible:
-¬†¬†¬† They offer "one-stop shopping." Consumers can see the psychiatrist at the Welcome Center Ē the same location where they can have a cup of coffee, pick up their mail, do their laundry, or talk to a case manager. This allows them to build trust over time with people who may initially resist seeing the psychiatrist.
-¬†¬†¬† They offer people same-day appointments. The average wait for an uninsured homeless person to see a psychiatrist elsewhere in the District is up to eight weeks Ē another serious barrier to urgently needed treatment.
-¬†¬†¬† They offer people the opportunity to see the psychiatrist úno questions asked. They require no proof of identity, no insurance, no social security number. This allows them to serve people who would be turned down elsewhere and allows the psychiatrist to build trust over time with people who may not initially wish to reveal their identity.
For homeless individuals with mental health issues, psychiatric care is the foundation of recovery. Receiving treatment can turn their lives around completely.
The District of Columbia does not reimburse psychiatric services for the uninsured. Friendship Place raises 100 percent of the funding for the operation of the mental health clinic from private sources.
The mental health clinic provides about 200 consultations a year.
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