TEAC HOMELESS (TEACH) INITIATIVE
TEACH to learn, learn to TEACH
In the fall of 2014, the TEACH elective was started to educate students about the effects of more chronic public health disasters, such as homelessness and poverty. This elective focuses on the social, mental and medical components of health associated with access to care. In addition, this elective aims to teach students how to provide better and more rounded care for homeless patients. The goal of the elective is ultimately to empower students to become more involved in the homeless community of North Philadelphia both through other TEACH projects and as future physicians. Some of the sessions held for the TEACH elective include training to become an HIV screener.
The microclinics offer quick screening clinics focused on a topic introduced in health literacy sessions as well as a consultation on health issues such as diabetes and high blood pressure. A Temple faculty physician is also present should the shelter residents require a higher level of care or if they have more major health concerns. These microclinics provide a continuity of care that may not be accessible to the residents of the shelters. TEACH students also host a Heart Health Fair once a semester for the Temple and North Philadelphia communities. Here, students work with community members to set up high blood pressure and diabetes screenings and increase awareness of these public health issues.
Health Literacy Workshops
The health literacy workshops are taught by medical students and strive to build relationships between student volunteers and homeless participants by facilitating an open environment for discussion. Here residents and students alike can develop an understanding of how to engage in dialogue with one another about preventative health care. Participants are then encouraged to consider how small adjustments in their current lifestyles can help them enjoy healthier lives.
A clinic long term clinic team has been working on a long-term transitional clinic to serve the homeless, with the ability to diagnose and treat, as well as screen patients. Oversight will be provided by a licensed physician, and the goal of the clinic is to bridge the gap between no healthcare, and a primary care physician who can then guide the patient on a more regular basis. Specifics of the clinic continue to change as it is being planned, but it is sure to aid the homeless of North Philadelphia in both medical and social welfare needs.
Currently TEACH visits two different sites: Kailo Haven and Self Inc. At these sites TEACH provides a 12-week health literacy curriculum which includes topics such as hypertension, cold weather care, sexual health, substance use, smoking, HIV/AIDS, nutrition, and diabetes. Additionally TEACH, in continuing its mission of staying adaptable and meeting the needs and desires of the safe haven residents, has developed and provided the resources to further develop integrated health-modules. Covering topics ranging from daily planning to heart-healthy cooking, these modules aim to present a picture of health from many perspectives.
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