Dr. Ann Catlett Leads Street Medicine Project for People Experiencing Homelessness

Dr. Ann Catlett

Ann Catlett, MD, clinical instructor, Hematology, Medical Oncology and Palliative Care, has been awarded a Baldwin Wisconsin Idea Endowment grant for $100,000 over two years for a proposal entitled “Madison Street Medicine Initiative." The project is to support a group called Madison Area Care of the Homeless or MACH OneHealth.

The grant will enable hiring of a project coordinator/social worker for the initiative to facilitate health care volunteers. The volunteers will provide a limited scope of respectful and patient-centered direct care to people experiencing homelessness during "street rounds."

“Our vision is that everybody has access to the health care that they need,” said Dr. Catlett, who was interviewed about the initiative for a story in the Wisconsin State Journal. 

Dr. Catlett explained that volunteer healthcare providers will work in teams to treat wounds and simple infections during weekly street medicine visits, but a main goal of the visits will be to establish trust with patients experiencing homelessness. 

“Whether it’s the clinic, the hospital, the emergency room or back out on the street, we would like to be a link between all those places,” she said.

In an interview with WISC-TV, Dr. Catlett described some of the barriers that people who are homeless face when trying to obtain medical care. She said, "Eighty percent of people who are currently housing insecure do have [insurance or healthcare] coverage, but that doesn't mean they have access to care" due to barriers such as transportation, worries about where to keep their medical supplies, or concerns about how they will be received by medical staff. 

In the future, Dr. Catlett hopes to open a house where people who are homeless or isolated could receive end-of-life care.

Volunteer health and mental health professionals are being sought to work in small teams with outreach workers for street medicine sessions. To find out more information, visit MACH OneHealth.