During the COVID19 pandemic, the Street Medicine Institute’s vision that communities throughout the world are transformed through the delivery of Street Medicine practices designed to meet the unique needs of rough-sleeping persons seems more relevant than ever.  In times of uncertainty, society often overlooks the marginalized in our communities, but street medicine teams around the world are continuing to go to the people and care for rough sleepers where they are. 

As the pandemic began, CNN reconnected with our Founder, Dr. Jim Withers, and other CNN Heroes to see how they are helping their communities during this time.  Jim and his team at Pittsburgh Mercy’s Operation Safety Net continue to go into the streets, screening those who may be at risk and providing tents and other necessities to help them self-isolate if necessary.

On the west coast, Esquire published a piece highlighting the work of SMI Vice Chair, Brett Feldman, who is the Director of Street Medicine at the Keck School of Medicine at USC.  Los Angeles has the highest homeless population in the United States with 44,000 people being rough sleepers. Even with shortages of testing equipment, Brett and his team continue to go into the streets to foster their relationships with the homeless and educate them on the protocols of social distancing. 

Our colleague, Harsh Mander, from the Center for Equity Studies in New Dheli, India, has shared videos depicting the overwhelming need in his local community as India addresses the virus. We know that throughout the United States and the world, our members are similarly going to the people. 

Dr. William Toepper, the medical director of Portland Street Medicine (PSM), and his team were featured on The Nation for their continued care for the 4,000 homeless people in Portland.  With their focus being on reducing the spread of COVID19, the PSM volunteers make rounds three days a week and have started handing out survivor kits with socks, snacks, antibiotic ointment, and hand sanitizer.  Please send us your stories at [email protected], and we will attempt to post as many of them as possible.

Responding to requests from our members at the beginning of the pandemic, the SMI Board of Directors, with input from street medicine professionals around the world, prepared and published  STREET MEDICINE PRACTICE during the COVID19 PANDEMIC.  The purpose of these recommendations is to help street medicine teams mitigate the spread, morbidity, and mortality of the SARS-CoV-2 novel coronavirus (COVID-19) within staff and patients while continuing to care for the rough-sleeping homeless. 

Since its inception two years ago, the Street Medicine Institute Student Coalition has grown rapidly, and through the current leadership of Chief Coordinator, Korrinne Yurick, the SMISC helped prepare student-specific guidance which has been incorporated into the STREET MEDICINE PRACTICE during the COVID19 PANDEMIC.  While most schools have closed and are no longer allowing students to go out onto the streets, Korrinne and the student leadership team have been hosting weekly zoom calls for fellow students.  These meetings have allowed them to share their questions and concerns, as well as actively advocate for the rights of the unsheltered. They have also created a Google Drive Folder full of resources and a heartwarming video to their rough sleeper friends, whom they are unable to see during this time.

As we continue to navigate through this pandemic, the Street Medicine Institute is proud to be an advocate for you and those we serve as we all continue to go to the people.