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Source: Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Visualizing Health Equity: One Size Does Not Fit All Infographic (2017)

At Vanderbilt University Medical Center, we care for a very diverse patient population.  Understanding the needs of our patients and the challenges they face surrounding healthcare will help us more adequately address health disparities that exist and advocate for our patients to achieve health equity. We are actively engaging with the VUMC Office of Health Equity on several projects, including offering a resident elective in health equity and identifying barriers to follow up care after ED discharge.



The Street Medicine Initiative is an outreach program that will bring medical personnel and resources onto the street to serve Nashvillians who are living unsheltered.  Our primary goal is to meet the health needs of those without access to housing.  In meeting those needs, we aim to educate and equip providers, develop systems that improve care, and document impact and best practices.  We anticipate our efforts to humbly care for our friends on the street will build empathy that will also lead to efforts of advocacy.


We have assembled a group of courageously compassionate medical providers from VUMC to organize a street medicine team.   Attendings, residents, students, and nurses from Surgery, Med/Peds, Psychiatry and Emergency Medicine are participating, and we will soon have a medical student interest group.  We have joined forces with Shade Tree Clinic , a VUMC student run clinic, who has implemented street outreach programs for vaccinations and are learning from prior efforts led by Dr. Sheryl Fleisch focused on behavioral health.  With a membership to the Street Medicine Institute, we have access to mentorship and seed funding.


Collaborating and working as a team is important.  We have made connections in the community with Open Table Nashville , Meharry Salt Wagon Clinic , People Loving Nashville,  and our VA Homeless Services support.  We are working directly with these partners to learn the specific needs of Nashville’s community experiencing homelessness and building partnerships to meet those needs.


The team is starting strong! We received a Health Equity Innovation Award from the VUMC Office of Health Equity enabling us to assemble our Street Medicine Team, join Open Table Nashville at their foot clinics, and be ready to apply for seed funding in the spring of 2023.  We also received a Center for Health Science Research Grant to incorporate  a screening tool into our electronic health record.  The screening tool will identify housing insecurity and homelessness in our patients and enable a system to provide additional services.  Collaboration with MaryBeth (Beth) Shinn, a Cornelius Vanderbilt Professor who has extensive experience studying how to prevent and end homelessness, will strengthen our academic efforts.

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