WOFKC has been working with the homeless community since 2013 with a goal of providing healthcare services to those who lack daily access to such services. When we started we really had no idea what we were going to find and the 4 years plus since we launched the service, have been very educational. It is thanks to those who partner with us (especially Hope Faith Ministries and Artists Helping the Homeless) and most notably our generous donors, that we have managed to expand our services as we learn more about the needs here in Kansas City.
It seems appropriate to set down on this blog, some of the things we have learned that may not be immediately apparent to everyone - they certainly weren't to us when we started!
So over the coming days and weeks I will try and outline some of the challenges faced by our clients, and how you have helped us over the years and continue to do so.
The history of the Foundation is one of medical missions. We have been involved, in one way or another, with providing overseas medical missions. We continue to provide these services in the Philippines and Dominican Republic (more on those in following blog posts). However we had not really thought about the key issues that prevented people from accessing healthcare services and that applied to our initial set up of the homeless clinics.
To say it is access to healthcare, or lack thereof, that causes the problems is to state the obvious. However there are so many reasons causing that. Overseas it is usually a combination of lack of medical resources in rural areas, usually down to lack of investment in medical infrastructure but also tough local geography, sparsely populated areas, poor communication links and many other factors. Poverty and money issues are obviously at the root of all that, either individually or at a government level.
In the US the underlying causes are maybe less obvious but basically similar. Lack of money to get to a doctor is obviously huge but the administrative hoops necessary to sign up with a doc, find medicare solutions etc. are all there too. For many, the Emergency Room ends us as both the primary care and the last resort. Although ERs cannot turn anyone away, they are not geared up to provide ongoing care and eventually, the costs they inevitably incur must fall somewhere.
This is not the place to try and resolve such ingrained societal issues but our goal is to provide that frontline care and, perhaps more importantly, help people navigate into the system that is there for them in many cases, if they can just get on the radar screen. This is why sustainability is so important and is something for which we strive.
These are big, big issues, not easily addressed but they will be the theme underlying all future activities we undertake as a Foundation and also the subjects of this blog in the future.
I am Jerry Smith, Executive Director of WOFKC. I will use this blog to bring to attention activities of the Foundation of which you may not be aware - hopefully there will be some enlightenment and entertainment herein! Please get in touch to learn more.