MAP Director Dr. Stephen Hwang receives prestigious University of Toronto President’s Impact Award

For his work to improve the health of people experiencing homelessness and to make social justice and health equity central to medical practice, Dr. Stephen Hwang has received the University of Toronto President’s Impact Award.

A professor in the department of medicine and scientist in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael’s Hospital, Hwang is a world-renowned expert. His research and advocacy has elucidated the causes and risk factors for death among homeless people, the relationship between traumatic brain injury and homelessness, and the effects of homelessness on health status.

Hwang has played a pivotal role in advancing Canadian and international scholarship and advocacy related to homelessness. His work helped inspire the creation of the 100,000 Homes Campaign, which has mobilized officials in hundreds of cities across the U.S. to house thousands of long-term and medically vulnerable homeless individuals who were at increased risk of death.

“Homelessness affects hundreds of thousands of Canadians and takes a tremendous toll on health,” Hwang said. “Our work has shown that the Housing First approach ends chronic homelessness and should be widely implemented. This award will support our ongoing research on new interventions to meet complex health needs and improve well-being and social integration among people experiencing homelessness.”

Traumatic brain injury in homeless people is underrecognized

…Stephen Hwang, MD, an internist, homelessness researcher, and director of [MAP Centre for Urban Health Solutions] at St. Michael’s Hospital in Toronto, said “living on the streets or in a shelter is a hazardous environment.”

He said neurologists treating homeless patients should be aware of the possibility that a history of TBI could be the cause of behavioral issues, seizures or unexplained cognitive deficits. He helped craft recommendations issued in October 2018 by the National Health Care for the Homeless Council that focus on the care of patients who are homeless and living with the effects of TBI. It includes recommendations for assessment of possible deficits, including which screening tools to use.