Every day in America, doctors prescribe medication to patients who have no food at home or live in unsafe housing. Medicine alone won’t solve these problems, and many will return with more serious – and more expensive – illnesses.
Health Leads envisions a healthcare system that addresses all patients' basic resource needs as a standard part of quality care. In the clinics where Health Leads operates, physicians can prescribe food, heat, and other basic resources their patients need to be healthy, alongside prescriptions for medication. Patients then take those prescriptions to a Health Leads Desk in the clinic waiting room, where our college student Advocates work side-by-side with the patients to access community resources and public benefits.
Janet sat patiently in the clinic waiting room, suitcase in hand. She had been coming to this clinic for eight years and was hopeful that this time would be different. That this time, she would get the help she needed to control her diabetes. As the Health Leads team began to talk with her, they discovered that all she wanted was help finding a job. "Everything else," she said, "a home, healthy food to manage my diabetes, depends on my finding a stable job."
Chronically homeless, Janet faced challenges finding steady work. Over the years, Janet's physicians knew she needed a job, but didn't have the tools to help her. Janet told us, "This doctor, this time, after I told him what I needed, told me about you." She had been waiting, not just that morning, but for nearly eight years.
Highly motivated, she enrolled in an employment program that works with people in her situation and helped her look for a job the next day. She was ready - but she needed a healthcare system that was invested in keeping her healthy.
Our success over the past 18 years begins with patients like Janet - patients who can find hope and good health because of a resource connection. And we owe it to them to create a better healthcare system - one that can actually address the realities of their lives.
But we need your help. Your gift will not only enable us to connect more families to the basic resources they need to be healthy, but ultimately, catalyze the healthcare system to address all patients’ social needs as a standard part of care delivery. Better health is possible. One connection at a time.