Helping homeless women and children
Those who need healthcare the most, yet have the least access.
Shelter Health Services provides free healthcare and health education to uninsured, medically indigent, homeless women and children living in poverty through its walk-in clinic located within the Salvation Army Center of Hope, Mecklenburg County's largest women's shelter. 61% of the homeless women and children living in emergency/transitional housing stay in the Center of Hope. All may access our clinic simply by showing their shelter ID. Lacking money and Medicaid, they truly rely on the free clinic for their healthcare.
Our mission is to remove health issues as barriers to self-sufficiency for homeless women, and as impediments to development for homeless children, by providing free healthcare and health information that is easily accessible. Attaining self-sufficiency is the most effective way out of homelessness. Being healthy enough to find and keep a job, affordable housing and become a part of the community is what virtually every woman in the shelter is trying to achieve. But poor health can cause or will prolong homelessness
Homeless picture not so rosy
A Charlotte Observer article on April 9 read "Homeless numbers dip 17% this year." Overall this is good news. However, challenges still exist for our clinic, and other agencies that focus on homeless women and children. From the same Point-In-Time study homeless females increased 32% this year. Over the past five years homeless families increased 57%. These uninsured, medically indigent, homeless women and children living in poverty are our clients. They need healthcare the most, yet have the least access. For most, they truly rely on our free clinic for their healthcare.
Affordable Care Act impact
North Carolina is not participating in the implementation of the ACA. As a result, Medicaid coverage will not expand to include those who presently do not qualify. This represents 70% of our clients. Additionally, NC is not required to set up insurance exchanges from which to buy insurance. A federal exchange has been put in place. To assist in premium payments, a federal subsidy program has been established. However, anyone earning less than 100% Federal Poverty Level does not qualify for the subsidy. 85% of our clients earn less (far less) than 100% FPL.
As a result, the uninsured remain uninsured and continue to rely on the free clinic for their care.
The misperception still exists that all poor people have Medicaid, and that if they didn't have Medicaid before the ACA, they have it now. Clearly this is not the case. 75% of our adult clients do not have Medicaid and 30% of our children clients do not have Medicaid. Without this safety-net, they have few options to access care. For those women and children staying in the Salvation Army Center of Hope shelter, they can access our clinic simply by showing their shelter ID.