As Pathways to Housing DC has evolved over the past decade, so too has the national landscape of healthcare services. Individuals served by the public mental health system are dying, on average, 25 years earlier than the general population. This is largely due to chronic health conditions such as diabetes, hypertension, cancers, and other obesity- and smoking-related diseases. These illnesses are worsened by years of malnutrition, living out in the harsh elements, and limited access to preventive health care. Pathways to Housing DC originated as a mental health and substance abuse provider. We have grown our partnerships with primary care providers and other local nonprofits over the past few years, recognizing that physical health and mental health are inextricably linked. We are committed to growing life expectancy and improving the health of the individuals we serve.
We believe that housing is healthcare and that the real recovery work begins after homelessness has ended. Pathways to Housing DC was one of the very first Behavioral Health providers in the District to implement an integrated healthcare model. With a five year grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), we began integrating primary health care services into our existing behavioral health services in 2010. Four years later, we are beginning to see measurable positive health outcomes and the people we serve taking control of their health.
Timely access to healthcare and health education greatly impact an individual's ability to recover, live longer, and maintain a healthy lifestyle. We currently provide integrated mental health and primary care services to all Pathways clients through an on-site, walk-in clinic via our partnership with Unity Health Care (the District’s largest Federally Qualified Health Center), peer health educators, and a RN nutrition specialist. The program has impacted the lives of the people we serve by increasing their awareness of, and adherence to, healthy behaviors and independence in managing their healthcare needs. We have seen an increase in the number of preventive care visits, a decrease in emergency department visits, an increase in the percentage of clients linked to primary care providers, an increase in adherence to diabetes management and regular lab work for clients with diabetes and pre-diabetes, an increase in adherence to follow-up medical appointments and medication, an increase in healthy eating, an increase in social support and a decrease in substance use.
Ultimately, our goal is to ensure that the people we serve are empowered and able to live longer, healthier and more hopeful lives.
We need your help to continue offering real solutions to end chronic homelessness in Washington, DC.