AUSTIN — When the pandemic started, unhoused people faced a lot of questions: Where am I supposed to isolate? Where can I wash my hands now that everything is shutting down? How am I supposed to get tested if I’m feeling sick?
CommUnityCare, a healthcare provider for people experiencing homelessness among other groups of Austinites, was there with answers. The group provided healthcare at the City of Austin’ Protective Lodges (ProLodges), converted hotels to provide individual rooms for high-risk people to isolate. The clinic the organization runs at the Austin Resource Center for the Homeless (ARCH) gave out tents and other supplies to create isolation space and handed out hygiene packs. Doctors there also created mass testing opportunities for unhoused people that were able to catch cases before they became outbreaks.
These COVID-19 operations were continuations of CommUnityCare’s two models of care: being where people are and providing whatever it is people need. CommUnityCare is Fiercely Focused on ending homelessness.
The video above explores three key ways this organization helps keep unhoused people stay healthy through three personal stories.
- David connected with the clinic at the ARCH and connected with the doctors there; now, thanks to his connection with the providers, he’s on his way to housing.
- Nick went to the clinic set up at Esperanza Community, the encampment managed by The Other Ones Foundation in southeast Austin, because of a wound. While he was there, doctors drew some blood to check for diabetes and provided a vision voucher so he could get a pair of glasses.
- Angel was living in a shelter because, though he had a job he couldn’t afford rent, when the pandemic hit. He moved to a ProLodge, and while there, he was able to get a colonoscopy that he says helped save his life.
“This is why we do what we do,” says Dr. Audrey Kuang, Clinical Lead for CommUnityCare’s Healthcare for the Homeless Team, “so we can bring you this care that you don’t even know that you might need.”
Each of these stories also highlights what Kuang and her team believe is the single best healthcare intervention: housing. “You can’t really do one without the other,” Kuang says.
Watch the video above or on our YouTube channel to see how CommUnityCare is Fiercely Focused on ending homelessness.