Over the last decade, I have had the privilege of serving those who do not have access to health care in our community. The majority of these fine people have been unhoused. This is the hardest and most rewarding job I have ever had. I have seen people who literally have only the clothes on their backs, shoeless, hungry and filled with despair walk into our clinic. We offered them the bare minimum: a little food, a hot drink, some medical care and a listening ear. We watched these people make dramatic changes because they learned that they really did deserve care. This is part of preventative medicine.
The economic system that we live in is brutal to the unhoused. People that struggle with limited resources are further punished for their suffering. We see the toll that living without the protection of shelter has on the body and the mind. Even common diseases with common treatments like diabetes are unnecessarily difficult to manage. Insulin for diabetic management needs to be refrigerated but without a house with a refrigerator, this life saving medicine is inaccessible. The result is that uncontrolled diabetes eventually leads to a loss of tissue and infection leading up through the body which results in death, one amputation at a time.
This is completely preventable. We at Occupy Medical are dedicated to the proposition that healthcare is a human right and housing is part of the equation. Tonight, on the longest night of the year, we mourn those who were denied that right. We will not forget your loss. We will continue the fight for justice. A roof is good medicine. Bless you all.
Program Director, Occupy Medical