Vulnerable Populations Need to be Considered as Outbreak Spreads

While many are thinking about schools, public gathers and civic meetings when it comes to the spread of the coronavirus, some medical professionals are beginning to be concerned about precautions in the homeless community, the jails and homeless shelters.

Emergency Room doctor and State Rep. Jon Santiago said he is concerned about how hospitals like Boston Medical Center (BMC) might be able to help those populations if there is an outbreak.

“BMC Emergency Room is the largest ER in town,” he said. “We see a number of disproportionately impacted communities and homeless folks. As a physician, we need to be extremely cognizant of how we educate these patients and making sure they have safe places to go. I would like to know what our homeless shelters are doing. What about the jails? I wonder if undocumented immigrants feel safe enough to seek care, or if they might be scared ICE will pick them up.”

Right now, the response is very new, and what is happening with vulnerable populations is not necessarily being discussed yet.

“These are people that live in close quarters,” said Santiago. “They are also people who are already suffering from a whole host of diseases. It’s going to be challenging for sure. I do have faith in our doctors and nurses and public health officials.”

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