Western News – Medicine resident joins health alliance for those experiencing homelessness in Windsor


In Windsor, Ontario, a joint effort is moving forward to provide critical primary health care services to people at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing homelessness. The collaboration includes the City of Windsor, Hotel Dew Grace Healthcare, the Canadian Mental Health Association Windsor Essex Chapter, and the Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry.

The Shelter Health Initiative, an independent working group under the Windsor Essex Ontario Health Team (WEOHT), provides same-day emergency medical care for the city’s homeless population, and its efforts are currently underway in Ontario. Enhanced by the participation of two state family medicine residents. Windsor Campus of Schurich Medical and Dental – Dr. Jara Rydzuk and Dr. Julia Petta.

“This initiative aims to provide trauma-based and individual-centred care that is available and appropriate for people at risk of becoming homeless or experiencing homelessness. It is also a unique learning opportunity for medical students and residents interested in understanding and addressing the impact of social determinants of health on patients,” said Jennifer M. Dr. Bondy said.

Dr. Jennifer Bondi, Adjunct Professor, Department of Family Medicine, Windsor Campus, Schulich School of Medicine and Dentistry (Schurich School of Medicine and Dentistry correspondence photo)

The homeless problem continues to plague municipalities across Canada. Homeless people represent only a small fraction of the region’s population, yet this vulnerable group faces significant threats to their health and well-being. The Shelter Health model addresses inequalities in communities by improving the health, social stability and quality of life of people living on the streets and in community shelters.

“We found that people experiencing homelessness are much more likely to be hospitalized for complex medical conditions and are much more likely to visit the emergency department than those experiencing homelessness. We hope to increase access to outpatient care in a comfortable setting for these people by offering same-day primary care in shelters and drop-in centres. We also aim to reduce costly emergency room visits for people with non-urgent needs,” said Bondi, principal preceptor of the Shelter Health and Social Medicine Family Medicine Residency on the Windsor campus.

The Shelter Health Initiative currently provides medical care at three locations in the city: the Welcome Center Shelter for Women and Families, The Salvation Army – Center for Hope, and the Homeless and Housing Help Hub (H4). All locations are digitally connected to all hospitals in the Windsor-Essex area through electronic medical records.

Two local family doctors and one nurse are currently supporting this effort, working up to 12 hours a week across three locations. Significantly expanding the scope and capabilities of the program, a family medicine resident joined Bondi’s team as part of her H4 program.

During their month-long rotation at the Shelter Health Initiative, residents spend time in a variety of clinical settings with other health care professionals and social service providers. Residents care for primary care patients with a variety of needs, perform common paperwork, and provide health and preventive care across the lifecycle.

“Shelter Health electives provide trainees with excellent interprofessional health education learning opportunities. We are proud of the trainees who have chosen to participate in the program,” said Dr. Larry Jacobs, Associate Dean of the Windsor Campus.

“Our dedication to providing accessible health care and supporting such efforts is more than just an educational strategy, it is also a testament to the school’s influence and commitment to providing quality health care in the community. “

According to data provided by the city, from 2022 to 2023, H4 locations alone will record 100 unique visits by people experiencing homelessness or living in shelters. Resident participation also plays an important role in securing alternative funding plans (AFPs). This is Shelter Health’s funding source to allow more family physicians, psychiatrists, palliative care physicians and other professionals to work within the system.

“The City of Windsor will facilitate links with appropriate health care, post-secondary and emergency shelter operators to improve the health, social stability and quality of life of our homeless neighbors. We fully support this effort,” said Human Affairs Secretary Andrew Daher. Windsor City Medical Services.





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