Street Medicine Kalamazoo (SMKzoo) provides medical care to unhoused individuals on the streets, in the encampments and in shelters where they are temporarily housed.
The Street Medicine Kalamazoo initiative was started in January 2021 by medical students, resident physicians and attending physicians from the Western Michigan University Homer Stryker M.D. School of Medicine (WMed). SMKzoo's model of care overcomes systemic barriers by taking medical care directly to the people and establishing a relationship of trust and mutual respect with the unhoused community. The program also gives learners an opportunity to better understand the social determinants of health and their impacts on health status, outcomes and care delivery.
Breaking down barriers to health
SMKzoo is under the direction of Dr. Sravani Alluri, assistant professor in the Department of Family and Community Medicine and Dr. Nic Helmstetter, assistant professor in the Departments of Medicine, and Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine. Through weekly ‘street clinics’ in encampments, temporary shelters and establishments in Kalamazoo such as the Ministry with Community, SMKzoo has become an established presence in the on-site delivery of essential primary care and addressing urgent health concerns. They also take care of pregnant women, newborns and children, with a focus on comprehensive medical care for those experiencing difficulties attending traditional office-based clinics. Over the last 2 years, the team has taken care of over 300 unhoused individuals, performing over 1500 clinical visits. In addition to treating common primary care complaints like hypertension, emphysema, and diabetes, the team treats substance use disorder, mental illness, and communicable diseases like Hepatitis C.
The program strives to serve as a medical home for unhoused patients, providing comprehensive and coordinated services, thus improving access to care and healthcare outcomes in the unhoused. SMKzoo also trains the next generation of physicians to work with vulnerable populations while emphasizing the values of community service and prioritizing the needs and voice of the patient.
How your support makes an impact
Philanthropy and donor support has assisted with the employment of dedicated personnel, purchase of medical equipment and funding for patient assistance, such as transportation and purchase of prescription medications. The team at Street Medicine Kalamazoo expresses their appreciation for the support that it has received from the Kalamazoo County community in fulfilling their mission.