Looking back, looking forward

Last Friday, December 20th, Spokane residents gathered to remember homeless individuals who had passed away during 2013. CHAS hosts the memorial ceremony each year to bring attention to the tragedy of homelessness and to remember our homeless friends who lost their lives. The event is part of a national memorial organized by the National Coalition for the Homeless and is traditionally held on or near December 21st, the Winter Solstice – the official start of winter. Homeless Memorial 9 (1 of 1)

Speakers included CHAS COO, Aaron Wilson, CHAS Deputy Medical Director Bill Bomberger, PA-C, House of Charity’s Kari Chapman, and City’s Gate’s Pastor John.

Stories and statistics were shared including:

  • On a single night in January 2013, there were 610,042 people experiencing homelessness in the United States.
  • Of those, 65% were living in emergency shelters or transitional housing and 35% were living in unsheltered locations.
  • Last year, Washington was the third most successful state in reducing homelessness, with a reduction of 2,744 homeless people.
  • But, homelessness continues to be a problem in the Spokane area.
  • Last year, CHAS saw an 8% increase in homelessness amongst patients.
  • 13% of CHAS’ patients without a home are children.

Remembered at the memorial were 39 men and women. Each person’s name was read and a bell rang in their honor.

Homeless Memorial 11 (1 of 1)Looking back gives perspective on the daily struggles that live amongst us and that there is still much work to be done. Looking forward gives us hope that tomorrow can be better and that by working together we can help end homelessness.

The Homeless Outreach team at CHAS is fortunate to work with many non-profit organizations and community resources who assist those without a home, including, amongst others, House of Charity and City Gate.

Kelley Charvet is the Communications Manager at Community Health Association of Spokane

Do you know Mike? His life is about to change.

When I was getting ready to head home yesterday, I started receiving reports from some of my co-workers about how many people they had enrolled in health insurance through Washington Healthplanfinder. Some of the numbers reported were 36…and 52. I paused and thought, wow, that’s amazing! And then I got an email stating 59! What? Was that a typo? Two people enrolled 59 folks in just one day? Yes – that happened! I had to stop and pause a little longer.

Of course, those aren’t just numbers, those are people. Those are individual people who may have previously put off getting treatment because they didn’t have insurance and couldn’t afford to pay out-of-pocket for their visit. It may have been a decision between buying groceries, paying for gas, or getting that nagging cough checked out.

Because of the Affordable Care Act, in Washington State, adults between the ages of 19 up to 65 are now eligible for Medicaid if they have incomes below 138% of the federal poverty level. Broken down, it looks like this:

Household Size 138%
1 $15,856
2 $21,404
3 $26,951
4 $32,499
5 $38,047
6 $43,594

For others who may not qualify for Medicaid, there are tax credits available for those with incomes between 138%- 400% of the federal poverty level.

There has been so much misinformation and political talk about this subject that sometimes the negative seems to overtake the positive. But when I reflect on what it all really means, I simply become thankful. I’m thankful that I live in a country that is taking a step towards a healthier future. I’m thankful that I live in Washington State where my friends, family and neighbors can get the health care they deserve. I’m thankful that people like Richard (age 23), Kathleen (age 62), Mike (age 30), and Valentina (age 45) are now going to be able to seek care when they actually need it – or a novel idea – practice preventative wellness! Yes! Finally!

Richard, Kathleen, Mike, Valentina, and so many others are about to experience a life change. They are about to be granted one of the most important rights we all should have. Access to health care. And for that, I am thankful.

More information about health care in Washington State can be found at:

Kelley Charvet is the Communications Manager at Community Health Association of Spokane