This is unpublished
Dr. Russell Berg
Dr. Leslie Enzian
January 14, 2022

Palliative Care for Homeless Residents

In 2020, 31% of homeless residents surveyed in King County said they struggled with a chronic health problem, 44% reported drug or alcohol disorders, 47% said they suffered from post-traumatic stress and 54% dealt with a mental health condition.
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The Seattle Times recently profiled one women who was trying to navigate the system to find a home while treating her cancer. She had help from the palliative care program at Harborview – the first of its kind in the country – that sees up to 80 patients a year, but that’s probably 1% of people who need this support.

The palliative care team started out as a pilot in 2013, when health care workers saw hospitals overwhelmed with people suffering from chronic homelessness and advanced diseases. The diseases that they saw — cancer, kidney disease, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease — bloomed into rarely seen extremes because people were stranded from regular health care.

Many Department of Medicine faculty are involved in our palliative care programs, including those mentioned in this article, Drs. Russel Berg, clinical instructor and Leslie Enzian, clinical associate professor (General Internal Medicine).