Combined human and veterinary services enhance primary care access for homeless youth and their pets
In 2018, a multidisciplinary team in Seattle created a combined clinical space to care for homeless youth and their pets. The One Health Clinic, based at New Horizons, a shelter for homeless youth in Seattle, provides concurrent primary health care and veterinary care to young people and their pets after a community needs assessment revealed pet ownership as a barrier to accessing health care services.
The OHC is currently offered as a 4-hour session twice monthly, with both human and animal health addressed at each visit. According to the authors, "Many people experiencing homelessness own animals that provide emotional support and other health benefits… This integrated model leverages the power of the human-animal bond to increase primary care access for individuals experiencing homelessness, many of whom prioritize care for their animals over care for themselves."
The OHC also provides opportunities for interdisciplinary learning between medical students, veterinary students, and other health professionals. The OHC offers a free toolkit of protocols and best practices for other groups interested in starting a One Health Clinic in the U.S. or Canada.
Results from the clinic are published in The Annals of Family Medicine.
More information: Alice H. Tin et al, A One Health Clinic for People Experiencing Homelessness and Their Animals: Treating the Human-Animal Unit, The Annals of Family Medicine (2022). DOI: 10.1370/afm.2864