Health is on our minds a lot these days. With COVID-19, with the delta variant, with RSV continuing to threaten and to scare, we are all evermore aware of the need to protect ourselves and others the best we can. These ever-looming contagions have taken center stage for 18 months. The warnings are constant; the impact is devastating. In the U.S., nearly 40 million people have had COVID and over 600,000 have died. Yes, we are all looking very seriously at health issues these days.
While COVID, Delta and RSV are very real concerns for members of The Well Community, our participants have many other—and just as deadly—health issues that cast a perpetual shadow. Diabetes, high blood pressure and addictions are just a few conditions that are often co-diagnoses with mental illness.
Some of these health issues are interrelated with mental illness through poverty, some through poor nutrition and hygiene and others from side effects of medications. (See An Interconnected Challenge: Physical Health in the Shadow of Mental Illness for more reasons why physical and mental health are so entwined.)
Because of the high-risk medical needs of many of our members, our staff is always watchful and alert. We adjust meals for those with diabetes and connect members to local health care clinics. When we haven’t seen members in a while, we make inquiries to be sure they are okay. We partner with both Parkland Hospital and the Dallas County Health Department, which provide vaccine clinics at The Well Community. In addition, the Parkland Hospital HOMES (Homeless Outreach Medical Services) mobile clinic comes to The Well every Monday afternoon to provide health care for members and neighbors who are experiencing homelessness.
Our staff and volunteers are also taking precautions such as wearing masks, getting vaccines, practicing social distancing and staying home when ill. We encourage our members to do the same. It’s all part of fostering physical and mental stability, restoring respect and dignity, and keeping our community healthy.