For people experiencing homelessness, even mundane aspects of life are a big challenge. Getting around, staying warm, accessing running water for cooking and cleaning—essential things that most people do without much thought—require a great deal of effort and energy.
This harsh daily reality makes it nearly impossible for unhoused people to stay healthy. It also makes them among those least likely to have access to health care.
To be effective in reaching and supporting people without housing, health care providers must rethink their traditional care delivery approach. They must look beyond their hospital and clinic walls and focus their resources on addressing a foundational need that affects health — housing.
That’s exactly what Dignity Health has set out to do in the Central Valley.
Together with San Joaquin Whole Person Care, Dignity Health has launched a partnership with STAND (Stocktonians Taking Action to Neutralize Drugs), providing a Homeless Health Initiative Grant to create permanent housing for the homeless population in Stockton.
The $1.8 million grant from Dignity Health will fund the creation of four housing units on STAND’s existing property, as well as the purchase and rehabilitation of three additional units. Together, the units will house at least 16 people and provide them with permanent housing that they would not have otherwise.
“Dignity Health’s Homeless Health Initiative Grant program is an extension of our organization’s long-standing commitment to serving those most vulnerable among us, including the unhoused,” said Don Wiley, president and CEO of St. Joseph’s Medical Center.
Caring for those experiencing homelessness: Isabel’s story
Isabel Vega is a Stockton resident, and both a Dignity Health patient and a client of STAND. She was just 8 years old when she ran away from home because she was being abused. A few years later, she reconnected with her birth father in hopes of finding another caregiver, only to suffer further abuse. Working with Dignity Health and STAND has had a tremendous impact on her life, she said. Today, Isabel has a job, is pursuing her education and is giving back to her community by helping others who are experiencing homelessness.
Dignity Health cares for Californians experiencing homelessness like Isabel by providing access to programs like STAND, in addition to serving these patients in hospitals and clinics across the state. In keeping with our mission to bring the healing power of humanity to everyone we serve, Dignity Health is committed to addressing homelessness and supporting health equity for the most vulnerable Californians.