Denver medical professionals joined for this morning’s press Conference in support of Measure 2B as representatives of the 180 health care professionals who signed the letter in support of the 0.25% sales tax increase on non-essential items. You can watch the full press conference here.
Testimony was heard from:
- Sarah Stella, MD, Internal Medicine Hospitalist, Inpatient Care
- Sarah Rowan, MD, Infectious Disease Specialist
- Ed Farrell, MD, Director of Integrated Health Services, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
- Kaylanne Chandler, RN/BSN, Director of Nursing, Colorado Coalition for the Homeless
People experiencing homelessness are often medically vulnerable individuals with pre-existing medical conditions and advancing age, and international data clearly show these groups to be more vulnerable to severe COVID-19 disease. To date, 602 of our unhoused neighbors have tested positive for COVID-19 in Denver, at least 123 required hospitalization, and 13 have died. These risks weigh most heavily on Black and Latinx Coloradans who are overrepresented among people experiencing homelessness.
Homelessness is linked to health inequities, communicable diseases, and increased risk of pre-mature death, as well as a myriad of other health issues. “If I could write a prescription for housing in a meaningful way, I would do so,” said Dr. Stella. “It’s just as important as any evidence-based treatment I choose … or more important.”
The letter, which can be read in full here, was signed by medical professionals throughout the community. Dr. Rowan stated, “I signed this letter because as an infectious disease specialist and as someone working in public health, I have seen first-hand the challenges that homelessness presents to our patients, clients, and our greatest public health efforts.”
Measure 2B will allow Denver to build 1,800 homes with supportive services over the next ten years. This housing will help transition people into housing from shelters or unsheltered living situations and provide services like employment counseling or behavioral health care. For more information about Measure 2B, visit yeson2b.org.
Dr. Farrell offered what the measure can help do in our city: “We know what it takes to assist people experiencing homeless and help them move into safe, better housing. It requires dignity, respect, and investments in housing and integrated healthcare. Measure 2B increases access to so much of what is desperately needed, especially during COVID-19.”
Kaylanne Chandler further elaborated on what the COVID-19 pandemic has meant in the midst of a housing crisis. She stated “We believe and we know that housing is healthcare. It has never been clearer than now during our current COVID-19 pandemic that your health effects my health, my health effects your health, and we’re only as healthy as our least healthy member [of our community].”