Your parents or grandparents (or even you) might remember a time when the family doctor would make house calls, little black bag in hand, if someone was sick. Those days are long gone, and in fact the image most people today probably have of a doctor’s visit is sitting in the lobby waiting to be called, then sitting in the office waiting for the doctor to come in. It can seem like quite a hassle in today’s go-go-go mentality. But simply having access to a doctor is something many of us take for granted, because not everyone is so lucky.

Street Medicine Detroit

Street Medicine Detroit volunteers perform health check-ups on homeless people.

That’s where Street Medicine Detroit comes in. The program allows medical students to get some real-world experience treating homeless people, both in shelters and on the streets. Once a week, the student volunteers venture out to check vital signs, do basic health check-ups and make sure people get the medication and treatment they need.

Street Medicine Detroit, established by Wayne State students in 2012, is part of the Street Medicine Institute, which now has chapters in 85 cities around the world. The organization was founded in 1992 by Dr. Jim Withers, who realized that the typical health-care model requires people to come to the medicine, which excludes those who can’t do so. Often, these are the people who need it the most.

Street Medicine Eastern Market

Street Medicine Detroit brings health care to people who otherwise wouldn’t receive it.

Street Medicine Detroit calls its practice “in-reach,” meaning it strives to bring homeless people into a health-care system they’ve traditionally been excluded from. This helps to break down barriers that typically prevent homeless people from receiving treatment and eases their reluctance to seek help.

To learn more about Street Medicine Detroit, click here.

Do you know of any similar organizations that provide health care to people who are homeless or don’t have access to a doctor? If so, let everyone know in the comments section below.

–Scott

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