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Prescriptions for Food, Shelter & Clothing

Probably one of the most inspiring #TEDTalks on healthcare to that. In this 16 minute talk from 2012, Rebecca Onie challenges healthcare providers to think outside the box on the care provided to their patients with regards to the resources they need (shelter, food & clothing).

Patients often report on issues outside of the medical care diagnosed. Socioeconomic determinants of health including housing, food, income and other related factors play critical roles in what we see in the hospital, doctor’s clinics and healthcare centers. She narrates how she was inspired to develop a program tailored to improving the health of patients who have resource needs.

Rebecca identified that there aren't enough social workers to go round and there needs to be an innovative way to provide information and resources for patients in need of food, shelter, and other essential life needs. She shares in this #TEDMed explicitly on requirements for families with children having related environmental issues such as asthma and obesity. Her strategy employs the use of college interns to provide this information in the waiting rooms of doctor’s offices. She was also able to incorporate a consultation/ordering system for hospitals to have her team provide services to patients in the hospitals just as they would consult a therapist.

Indeed, the work nutritionists, social workers, and case managers do is without a doubt essential and cannot be replaced, but part of the innovation needed in healthcare is for us all to think outside the box, just as Rebecca Onie has. Bringing in college students who are well trained and equipped to share shelter locations, necessary nutritional information, and other resources could help alleviate some of the healthcare issues we see today. Not every community has these problems, but to the city, town, or locale where the Medicaid/Medicare population outweighs the private insurance/self-pay, this could be helpful.

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