Title

Strengthening the Circle: Seeking Healthcare Equity for American Indians Experiencing Homelessness

Presentation Type

Presentation

Abstract

Equitable healthcare is a concept that calls for more than just providing equal access to primary care services. In order to achieve equity for a particular community, the healthcare system must address the social factors that prevent better health for members of that community. Many studies have shown that the U.S. healthcare system does not provide equitable care either to American Indians or to people who are homeless. These studies have identified poverty, trauma, and low educational attainment as obstacles to improving health within both of these populations. However, there are no published studies that specifically explore healthcare equity for American Indians who are experiencing homelessness. My research attempts to fill this gap. In 2013, American Indians made up 4.3 percent of the total Missoula County population but 13.5 percent of Missoula's homeless. In an effort to determine how the healthcare system provides equitable care to American Indians who are homeless, I am conducting both informal and formal interviews with local American Indians living in the Poverello Center, an emergency housing shelter, or who are otherwise without stable housing. I am also collecting demographic data from public sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services, and the Indian Health Service (IHS), as well as obtaining utilization data from the Poverello Center and Missoula Indian Center (MIC), the local IHS-funded healthcare organization. I will use the data I collect to gauge whether or not the healthcare system is currently meeting the needs of American Indians in Missoula who are homeless. I will also work with the Poverello Center and MIC to develop strategies for making the local healthcare system more equitable, such as incorporating traditional healers, expanding workforce development opportunities, and adding programs or reshaping current program designs to address trauma and co-occurring disorders.

Category

Social Sciences

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Apr 17th, 9:40 AM Apr 17th, 10:00 AM

Strengthening the Circle: Seeking Healthcare Equity for American Indians Experiencing Homelessness

UC 327

Equitable healthcare is a concept that calls for more than just providing equal access to primary care services. In order to achieve equity for a particular community, the healthcare system must address the social factors that prevent better health for members of that community. Many studies have shown that the U.S. healthcare system does not provide equitable care either to American Indians or to people who are homeless. These studies have identified poverty, trauma, and low educational attainment as obstacles to improving health within both of these populations. However, there are no published studies that specifically explore healthcare equity for American Indians who are experiencing homelessness. My research attempts to fill this gap. In 2013, American Indians made up 4.3 percent of the total Missoula County population but 13.5 percent of Missoula's homeless. In an effort to determine how the healthcare system provides equitable care to American Indians who are homeless, I am conducting both informal and formal interviews with local American Indians living in the Poverello Center, an emergency housing shelter, or who are otherwise without stable housing. I am also collecting demographic data from public sources including the U.S. Census Bureau, the Montana Department of Public Health & Human Services, and the Indian Health Service (IHS), as well as obtaining utilization data from the Poverello Center and Missoula Indian Center (MIC), the local IHS-funded healthcare organization. I will use the data I collect to gauge whether or not the healthcare system is currently meeting the needs of American Indians in Missoula who are homeless. I will also work with the Poverello Center and MIC to develop strategies for making the local healthcare system more equitable, such as incorporating traditional healers, expanding workforce development opportunities, and adding programs or reshaping current program designs to address trauma and co-occurring disorders.