Homeless Health Initiative

Homeless Health Initiative: In the News

HHI nominated for White House Champions of Change Award

July 2012 — The National Health Care for the Homeless Council (NHCHC) nominated CHOP’s Homeless Health Initiative for the White House Champions of Change Award, under the category of Innovative Work in Ending Youth and Child Homelessness.

The Champions of Change program was created as a part of President Obama’s Winning the Future initiative. Each week, a different sector is highlighted and groups of Champions — ranging from educators to entrepreneurs to community leaders — are recognized for the work they are doing to serve and strengthen their communities. NHCHC is a service and advocacy group that strives to break the link between poor health and homelessness. 

Research: CHOP Nights connect families to primary care

Summer 2012 — The HHI, along with University of Pennsylvania research colleagues, studied the utilization of healthcare during CHOP Nights in HHI shelters. Twenty-four mothers living in HHI shelters were interviewed by the Penn research team.

The qualitative study substantiated that mothers used the healthcare provided in shelters in order to connect with needed primary healthcare for their children. They reported CHOP Night services as supplementing and reinforcing their education and use of healthcare in primary care settings and not substituting for the use of primary care providers.

Study results were presented to HHI stakeholders and were also presented at one national and one international conference in 2012. 

HHI’s Melissa Berrios Johnson honored by National Homeless Network

May 2012 — Melissa Berrios Johnson, MSW, social work trainer for HHI, was honored with the annual Award for Outstanding Service by the Health Care for the Homeless (HCH) Clinicians’ Network.

Berrios Johnson was recognized for being “a tireless advocate for children and families affected by homelessness and she never misses an opportunity to teach healthcare providers about the unique challenges families face. She functions as an expert on family homelessness as a mentor to the Community Nursing Advocacy Fellowship nurses and CHOP physicians as they step into an unfamiliar world outside our Hospital walls, and as a patient teacher.”

Berrios Johnson continues to develop programming for Operation CHOICES and leads the teen group at the People’s Emergency Center. She also coordinates HHI programming and trains hundreds of volunteers (physicians, dentists, nurses, medical students, dental students, nursing students, social work students, child life therapists, dietitians and nutritionists) for HHI medical visits and educational programming.

The HCH Clinicians’ Network represents clinicians who provide hands-on care to those experiencing homelessness and provides opportunities for these clinicians to work together toward a collective vision.

HHI partners with City of Philadelphia to assess homelessness in youth

September 2010 — In 2009, the HHI leadership team of Karen Hudson, Melissa Bennett and Melissa Berrios joined the Children’s Work Group, an initiative launched by Dr. Donald Schwarz, deputy mayor of health and opportunity and health commissioner for the City of Philadelphia.

In September 2010, the Children’s Work Group published the report, Philadelphia Children and Youth Experiencing Homelessness: Practical Strategies for Action.

According to the report, the number of children under the age of 17 experiencing homelessness in Philadelphia grew from 3,433 in 2008 to 3,582 in 2009 — a four percent increase. The report also noted that there was a marked increase — 12 percent — in the number of very young children (age 4 and younger) who were homeless in Philadelphia between 2008 and 2009 (from 1,493 to 1,668 children). In total, 46 percent of the approximately 5,000 children served in emergency and transitional housing in 2009 were younger than 5 years old.

The HHI team provided guidance around recommendations to improve the health of children living in emergency and transitional housing.

Read the full report »

HHI recognized for work with homeless shelters

HHI was named a "Best Practices Model" by the Philadelphia Blueprint to End Homelessness, People's Emergency Center and the Mayor's Task Force on Homeless Services.

In the spring of 2005, HHI was presented at the Third International Symposium on Child Health and Development in Tokyo, Japan, as a way of inspiring such efforts and initiatives to be undertaken in Japanese hospitals.

In the summer of 2005, Mayor Bernard Kincaid of Birmingham, AL, came to Philadelphia to learn first hand from the HHI team about the health services HHI provides to children in Philadelphia shelters. The HHI team was honored by the People's Emergency Center (PEC) for outstanding volunteer leadership and service to the children and families at PEC.

Additionally, HHI was honored with a Philadelphia City Council Resolution Award in 2007, and with the American Red Cross Cornerstone Award in 2008.


Reviewed by: Karen Hudson, MSW, LSW
Date: May 2013

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