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LETTER: Guelph General, Health Care Alliance speak out on homelessness

'Our hospitals are experiencing a rise in patients who do not have a home or a place to recover after being discharged'
A tent sits in front of city hall.

GuelphToday received the following letter to the editor from Mark Walton, president and CEO of Guelph General Hospital, and Angela Stanley, president and CEO of Wellington Health Care Alliance, about the housing crisis's impact on our health care system.

Stable housing, while a basic human right, has a significant impact on a person’s wellbeing.

Adequate housing gives more than just a roof over one's head; it also provides stability, security, and a sense of belonging. On the other hand, inadequate housing can result in overcrowding, insufficient heating, or exposure to pollutants (such as mould or lead). All of this has a direct influence on physical health, resulting in respiratory issues, chronic diseases, and higher stress levels.

When we don’t take care of our basic human needs, it can set off a chain reaction of health issues which can result in increased visits to already busy emergency departments.

Our hospitals are experiencing a rise in patients who do not have a home or a place to recover after being discharged. Coupled with this is a rise in patients arriving to emergency departments with mental health and substance abuse challenges. All of these patients face an increased risk of injury and illness, often having nowhere else to turn causing them to return to the hospital for care. 

The Guelph-Wellington Ontario Health Team (GW OHT) is actively working with partners towards a solution with projects like the 32-unit supportive housing complex located at 10 Shelldale Crescent in Guelph. Several of these building projects are under construction however require continued financial support to run them. Funding is needed to provide onsite care that will look at the whole person; offering everything from physical to mental health and substance use supports, to food and recreation programs.

Providing adequate supportive housing is not only the right thing to do, but also necessary to help avoid the major consequences affecting our health care system. 

Great work needs to continue to help address the growing problem. We are asking the public to please stay informed and advocate for those without a home or a place to recover. Connect with the Guelph Community Health Centre, Kindle Communities and Stonehenge Therapeutic Community to find out more information and how you can help. 

Addressing the increasing challenges faced by members of our community is a shared responsibility that requires collective action. By advocating and supporting these initiatives, we can ensure that everyone has access to the care and support they need.

Mark Walton, President & CEO, Guelph General Hospital
Angela Stanley, President & CEO, Wellington Health Care Alliance