Homeless persons place a higher priority on fulfilling their basic needs, food, shelter, and income, than on obtaining needed health services, following through with a prescribed medical treatment plan or keeping follow-up appointments.
Over the past 14 years, Harmony House has provided more than 30,000 meals to the 200-250 homeless men, women and children who each month attend the event. The lunch-time Health Fair meals were originally intended as street outreach to the homeless — our way of introducing the homeless to the services available at Harmony House. With food acting as a magnet for the homeless, the meal-time event has developed trust and confidence in our staff and that of our collaborator, Harris County Hospital District, fostering an acceptance of medical intervention.
The program targets homeless men, women and children in the Downtown area. Past meals have offered a physical examination and screening by Harmony House staff and community agencies for one of the following diseases: obesity, diabetes, hypertension, HIV, hepatitis B & C, kidney disease, tuberculosis health related services, immunizations, and cancer.
The Health Fair program offers 200 plus homeless the opportunity to participate in medical screening, to receive a physical examination by a nurse practitioner, to obtain medication, physician guided counseling, referral, comfort and support while obtaining a healthy meal. On-site medical screening, linked in a referral relationship with public and private health care service providers, offers integrated one-stop health care together with the opportunity for accurate diagnosis, quality treatment and client follow through. With a short attention span and limited interest in health care, the homeless population responds most favorably to medical screenings that provide immediate results.