Team drafts CMA guidelines for treating homeless Indigenous patients

Doctors can play a role in ending homelessness in Indigenous communities simply by treating patients with hospitality and respect, says Métis-Cree professor and author Jesse Thistle.

Thistle, who has experienced homelessness himself, is part of a team drafting an Indigenous approach to caring for homeless patients for the Canadian Medical Association.

Thistle is developing the guidelines alongside Dr. Janet Smylie, a Métis family physician in Toronto, with guidance from Maria Campbell, a Métis elder, author, and Indigenous community research methodologist.

They are part of a wider CMA effort to provide doctors with best practices on how to treat homeless patients by connecting them with the people and systems that can provide housing, income support, mental health treatment and harm reduction programs.

A preview of the guidelines was published in the Canadian Medical Association Journal on Monday, along with an accompanying commentary by Thistle and Dr. Smylie. The full project will available over the summer.  

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