On May 6-7, 2022, healthcare and service professionals, from physicians to social workers, met for the inaugural Texas Street Medicine Symposium at the Tarrant County Medical Society. The event was a success, and now, Fort Worth is making a bid to host the 2023 International Street Medicine Symposium.
Street medicine is centered around bringing comprehensive medical care to people who are experiencing unsheltered homelessness. The symposium, which had representatives from Fort Worth, Austin, and San Antonio, was an opportunity for street medicine teams and affiliate organizations to share ideas and opportunities.
“The practice of Street Medicine is often tied closely with state and local policies,” says Joel Hunt, PA. Hunt, who was one of the Symposium’s lead organizers, is the director of Acclaim Physician Group’s Street Medicine program. “Texas has a large, diverse population, and many Street Medicine teams spread across the state. Our goal was to give these teams a space to meet and share their experiences in hopes that best practices could be applied statewide.”
The meeting, which had around 70 attendees, was a collaborative effort between JPS Foundation, Acclaim Physician Group, Integrative Emergency Services, and TCMS. Street Medicine International founder Jim Withers, MD, spoke at the event, and a range of topics and resources were covered to empower those who interact with the homeless community, from opioid abuse treatments to housing access.
The event was well received, and participants left informed and challenged, but Hunt isn’t resting on his laurels – he is preparing to send in an application to host the 2023 International Street Medicine Symposium in Fort Worth. If his bid is accepted, the symposium, which will take place next fall, would bring hundreds of healthcare and social workers to Fort Worth for its duration. Hunt will need to turn the application in to the Street Medicine Institute by June 24, 2022.
“We hope to leverage our success with hosting this conference to put forth a strong application,” says Hunter Scarborough, MD, Hunt’s co-organizer for the Texas Symposium and an emergency medicine physician at JPS Health Network. “Fort Worth has the advantages of an easily accessible airport, big city amenities, and a local government supportive of health care and housing measures for persons experiencing homelessness.”
Hunt believes this event would energize and inform Tarrant County’s current street medicine initiatives.
“Showcasing the great work this community is doing would be fantastic,” he says. “Bringing in international experts to share their knowledge, wisdom, and experiences would allow us to in turn apply them to continue to improve our community.”