People who are homeless experience greater health risk and die earlier than those who have housing. A report conducted for the National Health Care for the Homeless Council found that people experiencing homelessness are three-to-four times more likely to die prematurely than their housed counterparts. The experience of homelessness causes health problems (frostbite and hypothermia from the cold, communicable diseases from crowded shelter conditions), exacerbates existing illnesses (cuts lead to infection, frostbite result in amputation or even death), and seriously complicates treatment (medications are lost or stolen, lack of transportation to access health providers, lack of health insurance).
PCMS case managers work toward solutions with homeless families in order to help avoid these unfortunate scenarios. Consider partnering with us to provide the support they need!
Susan was released from a local correctional facility after 10 years of incarceration. Due to the lack of emergency shelters for single women in Washington County, she was forced to stay with a man with whom she did not feel safe. Susan had older children and grandchildren in the community that she wanted to connect with. A life of substance abuse created a concern for Susan and a continual fear of relapse. She worked closely with her case manager to connect to a local Alcoholics Anonymous support group where she found comfort. She was homeless for 12 months before being accepted into a supported housing program where she continued to rely on the strong supports she had from PCMS and AA/NA. 18 months passed and Susan continued to remain sober. At 39 years old, Susan reported that this was the longest period in her adult life that she has stayed sober and out of prison. She has her own apartment and is able to see her grandchildren regularly.
Sometimes successes are brief. On Tuesday of this week, the front desk staff stated that there was a gentleman in the reception area who was released that morning from the detention center. He said that he was told to panhandle for money to get a bus ticket back to his home in Rockville. He was reluctant to do this and fearful that it would result in another arrest. He asked for help on the street and was directed to Potomac Case Management. The PCMS case manager was able to contact Gatekeepers Ministry and they agreed to help the man with the cost of the bus ticket home. He met with them at 12pm that same day and then was on his way back to Rockville.
I have been working with a client since I began at PCMS who presented with extreme anxiety. As we got to know one another we built a therapeutic relationship as well as trust and understanding that enabled us to work together effectively. She refused to set up a primary care provider appointment because she admittedly would not go. She felt that going through whatever pain or discomfort she was feeling would be easier to handle than her anxiety about going to the doctor. Finding a primary care provider that made her feel comfortable and was accessible to her was paramount we found one that was in the same building as the PCMS offices, and attending that appointment with her to provide distraction techniques and coordinating with her therapist, she attended her first primary care provider appointment. Last week, she texted me telling me that she was feeling unwell and not only called her doctor and scheduled an appointment, but she attended the appointment independently. This is the reason I love what I do–to see the positive change and growth in everyone with whom I work. Soon, she will not need PCMS, and that will be bittersweet, but I am confident that she will continue to be successful in her recovery.