Street Medicine Detroit, the organization founded by Wayne State University School of Medicine students to bring health care to the homeless, was recently profiled in a Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation annual report because of a grant to a School of Medicine physician.
Aaron Brody, M.D., M.P.H., assistant professor of Emergency Medicine, secured a $10,000 grant from the Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation to study the effects of the work of Street Medicine Detroit on emergency rooms.
Dr. Brody’s study – “Street Medicine Detroit: How do Mobile Medical Outreach Services for Homeless Patients Affect Their Emergency Department Utilization?” – is featured in “2016 Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation Annual Report: Doing What Matters.” The two-page spread includes photos of the doctor and medical students who are members of Street Medicine Detroit assisting homeless patients.
“We hope to learn more about a very vulnerable segment of the population – homeless people,” Dr. Brody said. “Our preliminary data show no impact of the Street Medicine team on the number of emergency department visits, however, we are learning a lot about the characterization of the population and their health needs.”
One anticipated finding, he said, is a “Pareto Effect,” in which a small minority of homeless people account for a disproportionate share of emergency room visits. Focusing resources on meeting the basic human needs (food, shelter and companionship) and the mental and physical health of this small segment has the potential to reduce the number of visits by homeless people, and the perception that all are emergency room “super users.”
Dr. Brody, who has been on one Street Medicine Detroit run but plans to participate more regularly, is working with students engaged in the effort on abstracts to submit to the upcoming American College of Emergency Medicine Research Forum to be held in October in Washington, D.C.