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St. Michael’s research project aims to improve care access for unhoused people

From The Globe and Mail article featuring Stephen Hwang, Alyssa Ranieri, and Fred Ellerington

People experiencing homelessness often suffer from a range of health problems that put them at heightened risk for severe illness and premature death. But because they lack housing, it can be a major challenge for those individuals to get and keep medical appointments and meet other basic needs to help prevent such poor outcomes.

After seeing so many patients fall into this cycle – being discharged from hospital only to be readmitted a short time later in even worse health – Stephen Hwang decided to do something about it. Dr. Hwang, a general internist at St. Michael’s Hospital in downtown Toronto who studies the connection between homelessness, housing and health, is in the midst of an ambitious research project to determine what happens when unhoused people who end up in hospital are given a helping hand.

That means that when certain individuals experiencing homelessness are admitted to the hospital, they are paired with a counsellor who helps them navigate follow-up appointments and fill prescriptions, makes sure those individuals have a place to stay after they’re discharged, and provides them with food and other basic necessities.

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