Director or Housing Services Lawanda Williams and her team recently navigated their client, Ms. L*, through some very hard circumstances. Ms. L was diagnosed with stage 4-vulvar cancer, and doctors recommended radiation and chemotherapy. Right in the thick of intense treatment, physicians decided they wouldn’t prescribe Ms. L pain medication because of struggles with substance use. Instead, they told Ms. L to go to outpatient care, but she lacked transportation, and the pain made sitting upright and long commutes unbearable. So, Lawanda and her team provided cab vouchers and other supports to make it easier for Ms. L to get to her appointments.
Lawanda and Ms. L were featured in the most recent edition of Healing Hands, a publication put together by the Health Care for the Homeless Clinicians’ Network. Thanks to this story, health care professionals from all over were able to share in on lessons learned and place this case study within the framework of patient-centered, end-of-life care.
Such is the benefit of being part of Health Care for the Homeless Clinicians’ Network, a free network of homeless service providers who are all working to improve quality of care for clients. Lawanda serves on the Steering Committee for the Clinicians’ Network and is a particularly active member, but anyone providing care to people experiencing homelessness can join.
“The Clinicians’ Network is one of the most valuable resources that we as Health Care for the Homeless providers can utilize,” says Vice President of Behavioral Health Jan Caughlan. “Collaboration and support from our peers is key, and that’s all accessible through the Network.”
For Lawanda, managing the care of Ms. L was difficult, but it’s taught her something new.
“I have been able to see how managing withdrawal and managing substance abuse in the context of a palliative care treatment plan does not always exist for patients experiencing homelessness,” says Lawanda. “She does not fit very neatly into any mainstream treatment model.”
Learn more about the Clinicians’ Network and join here.
*Ms. L is not her real name