07 Aug One Health Clinic
The One Health Clinic serves patients and their animals twice a month. A nurse practitioner from Neighborcare Health, a federally qualified community health center, provides primary medical care with assistance from University of Washington medical, nursing, social work, public health and pharmacy students from the interdisciplinary student group University District Street Medicine. Veterinary students and a faculty preceptor from the Washington State University College of Veterinary Medicine provide veterinary care and needs assessment for veterinary care in this community. The University of Washington Center for One Health Research, directed by Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, coordinates the integration of the human and veterinary medical services and the outreach to the community about the services
The Center for One Health began in 2018 as a project to coordinate the integration of human and veterinary health care. Integrated healthcare is an approach that believes that the health of the human, the animal, and the environment are all interdependent – that you cannot affect change in one without affecting the others – and that human health is directly correlated with the health and well-being of the animal and the environment. Noting an increase in the number of youth experiencing homelessness and displacement in the U-District and the prevalence of animal companions, the project sought out to discover how we could promote healthier changes and accessing healthcare services by taking an integrated, holistic approach that considers the environment (homelessness/displacement) and the animal. The One Health Clinic was formed as a space where human and animal healthcare are integrated.
The relationship between humans and their animal companion is one that is interdependent. While we understand the emotional benefits that arise from having an animal companion, what is often not very well understood is the overlap between human and animal health, which is often dependent on the environmental factors. Having integrated care creates a warm environment where people felt comfortable and human and animal health care takes place side-by-side in adjoining rooms in the second floor of the building. Students serve as patient navigators and help facilitate communication between the human and veterinary health team.
The integration of veterinary and human health care services has had a significant impact on the health and well-being of both the human and their companion. Noticing health issues on the animal – i.e. a rash on the dog – allows the doctor to ask about the environmental factors that might be affecting both the human and the animal and offer associated healthcare to the human. By being able to consider the care of one or the other, the doctor and veterinarian can create a joint healthcare plan and this has led to a dramatic increase in the number of young adults accessing healthcare services. Neighborcare indicated that they saw 32% more people accessing healthcare and 18% coming back for their follow up care, all because veterinary care was available for them.
The One Health Clinic is now open up to two nights per month at New Horizons, a shelter and service provider for youth in downtown Seattle. Neighborcare Health is the human medical provider at the clinic. WSU veterinary students work alongside UW medical, nursing and social work students, including members of University District Street Medicine, a student-run volunteer organization. Right now, the One Health Clinic is mostly serving youth and young adults. Though with sustained funding, they hope to be able to expand services to serve more folks.
Ways to get involved:
Approach Dog Day Cares and request that they donate 1 or 2 slots a day to someone who cannot pay. For people experiencing homelessness, not having a reliable space or person to watch their animal can impede their ability to work, attend interviews, or access other resources.