Medical professionals routinely state that a person’s health is determine not just by what they do (diet, exercise, etc.), but how and where they live. In fact, according to Dr. Megan Sandel, a leader of Boston Medical Center’s housing initiative, “Only about 10 to 20 percent of health is actually determined by what type of health care you get.”
Mortality rates in some regions of the world are dramatically higher than they are in other places and that is due to access to medical care, diet, housing, and much more. Recently, in Boston, some hospitals are starting to take definitive action in helping people live better by focusing on their home environment.
Boston Medical Center has started a housing initiative that seems to help better manage rundown neighborhoods, improve quality of life, and ultimately increase health for residents.
This may be one more step that hospitals and medical centers could take to improve the quality of care, health, and life for patients and residents. Hospitals have also become more invested in direct home care as a means to reduce readmission rates and improve follow-up care for patients. However, there are numerous questions about what impact this reach into housing can have over the long run.
As reported by Simon Rios for WBUR in Boston, in its news blog, Why Boston Medical Center Is Investing In Housing:
“Beyond the finances, it’s still unclear what kind of role hospitals could have in housing. At Waldeck, advocates are still working out important questions: Will there be a clinician onsite? Will fair housing law permit patients from certain hospitals to get to the front of the housing wait list? And what kind of assistance will be available to the residents, many of whom struggle with substances and mental health issues?
“I want it to look just as handsome on the inside as it looks on the outside,” says Codman NDC’s executive director, Gail Latimore. “I want the residents to feel like they have an ownership stake in the property. … I want the residents to actually be healthier as a result.””
A person living in squalor is much more likely to face health issues as a direct result of their environment than someone living in a clean, comfortable home. It’s not only the environment that matters, though, especially with regard to health and recovery; it’s the care and support that may be needed.
What Boston Medical Center may be tackling could have benefits, but when it is combined with home care options, this might provide true, lasting benefits.