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Health and Housing Equity Connection

Gilvar Consulting Services Newsletter

October 2020

This month’s topic: Critical Role in COVID-19 Response Helps Make the Case for Medical Respite Care’s Expansion 

This month I’m sharing my recent blogpost on medical respite care (aka recuperative care).  The post was inspired by a panel discussion that I recently moderated at the Washington Conference on Ending Homelessness.  What moved me, specifically, was Dr. Leslie Enzian’s story about the patient for whom the Seattle medical respite program is named, Edward Thomas.  Listening to Dr. Enzian talk about Mr. Thomas’ experience and relate it to her current role as Medical Director for Edward Thomas House reminded me of how critical the medical respite care model has been to the pandemic responses of communities across the country.  These communities can now more fully appreciate the power of medical respite to help people with acute and chronic medical and behavioral health conditions achieve the stability and safety they need–not only to recuperate and stabilize medically, but to engage with staff who can help them successfully navigate their way to permanent housing.  

I share the story of Edward Thomas’ success and reflect on the golden opportunity created by medical respite care’s current elevated profile.  Now is the time for communities to double down on the respite care model by expanding existing respite programs and making the respite-like services put in place at COVID-driven alternate care sites a permanent part of the homeless continuum of care.

Other Articles

City of Dallas Equity Assessment of Affordable Housing Policies

Along with colleagues Christine Campbell and Michele Williams, John conducted a racial equity assessment of the City of Dallas’s affordable housing policies.  The assessment relied on extensive community input and culminated in a presentation of 11 recommendations for change to the Dallas City Council.  The findings and recommendations are summarized in this final report.  Recommendations start on page 8, following the executive summary.

Accelerating Organizational Anti-Racism Work with Adaptive Leadership and Mindful Communication Practices

Transformational change at an organizational or systems level requires both deep listening and the willingness of leaders possessing decision-making authority to collaborate with those most directly impacted by the problems necessitating change. Few leaders I know would dispute this premise in the abstract, but many might struggle to explain in concrete terms how they walk the walk as well as they talk the talk. Moving organizations and communities from words to action around redressing institutionalized racism requires leaders not only to put listening and collaboration skills to the test, but to leap beyond the comfort zone of routine approaches to problem solving. Adaptive leadership and mindful communication practices can provide an excellent platform from which to dive into the deep water of acknowledging racism and other structural forms of oppression as powerful drivers of inequities in the areas of health, housing, and economic advancement.

Cross-silo Partnerships Boldly Tackling Inequities in the Midst of the Pandemic

New COVID-19 hospitalization data shine a stark light on the connection between homelessness and poor health.  The Minnesota Department of Health found that people residing in homeless shelters who were diagnosed with COVID-19 were 4 times more likely to be hospitalized and 3 times more likely to be admitted to an intensive care unit (ICU) than the overall population of Minnesota residents with a COVID+ diagnosis.  The hospitalization and ICU rates for people living unsheltered were even worse:  almost 10 times more likely to be hospitalized and 7 times more likely to receive treatment in an ICU.