Each year, roughly 10,000 Unity patients experience homelessness. As we continue to closely monitor COVID-19 developments in our area, we are actively working with Homeless Services providers (e.g. shelters, day centers) throughout the District to ensure individuals experiencing homelessness have access to medical care and preventative education.
Due to lack of access to consistent health care and other environmental factors, individuals experiencing homelessness are medically vulnerable to infection, including those transmitted by respiratory droplets or fomites, like COVID-19 and influenza. Ensuring that Homeless Services providers have adequate resources to bolster infection control and educate their clients on proper cough and sneeze hygiene and other preventative measures is key to mitigating vulnerabilities affecting homeless populations.
One potential challenge facing the Homeless Services community is the isolation of suspected COVID-19 cases in patients that are not sick enough to warrant in-patient hospital care. This scenario requires coordination across multiple levels of government and collaboration between community health and Homeless Services providers throughout the District. Unity is currently working with the Department of Human Services and DC’s Interagency Council on Homelessness to prepare for this possibility.