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St George Hospital Helping The Homeless

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A outreach program run by St George Hospital is helping homeless men take care of their health.

The hospital’s renal, medicine, liver disease and mental health departments, in conjunction with Mission Australia, aims to identify the needs and improve health care.

An outreach clinic was conducted at the Mission Australia Centre, Surry Hills, providing on-site physician assessment and blood collection.
This clinic has expanded to include monthly hepatitis C screening and treatment, including portable fibroscan testing and a psychiatrist-led mental health clinic. 

The service has treated 245 homeless men so far.

Renal physician and medical director of the division of medicine, Mark Brown, says this vulnerable group of people are at high risk of multiple chronic physical and mental health conditions.

“As an outreach service, it takes screening and health care directly to these men, allowing identification and treatment of risk factors and health conditions, linking hospital and community practice,” Professor Brown said.

“We have identified very high rates of mental health disorders (63 per cent), hepatitis C (29 per cent) and cardiovascular risk factors – 30 per cent with an established cardiovascular issue such as high blood pressure or ischemic heart disease, and 42 per cent with obesity and/or abnormal lipid or blood sugar profiles.

“There are few costs involved as clinician time is given voluntarily or as part of work in a formally established outreach clinic.”

Mission Australia Centre program manager, Diana Jazic commends the program.

“People experiencing homelessness often find it difficult to access health care, and some of the men may have poor nutrition, have experienced high stress or substance use – all of which take their toll and can prematurely age them,” she said.

“We’ve seen first-hand how successful this program has been in enabling these men to improve their mental and physical health.

“With easier access to the tailored health care they need, it means they are empowered to better address their individual concerns.”

Better Health for Homeless Men won the South Eastern Sydney Local Health District Improvement and Innovation Award for Preventive Health in 2017.

Story by: The Leader - http://www.theleader.com.au/story/5291897/better-health-for-homeless-men/

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