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MetroHealth doctors treat homeless patients during opening night of 'Doctors on the Street'

Posted at 10:20 PM, Dec 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-07 10:36:01-05

CLEVELAND — MetroHealth’s “Doctors on the Street” program kicked off for the first time this year on Friday.

The program started in 2011. Dr. Leanne Chrisman-Khawam said at one time, the number of homeless people seeking the program for medical treatment was going down. Now, it's rapidly increasing, causing the program to expand with a second location at Denison Avenue United Church of Christ (UCC).

Dr. Chrisman-Khawam takes helping those in need to heart. It’s also why she helped start the Doctors on the Street.

“Anyone can be homeless,” she said. “For five years I did nothing. This is how you fix things.”

The program's primary goal is to reconnect those in need with healthcare.

“We're talking about a really vulnerable population,” Dr. Chrisman-Khawam explained. “For many of them they haven't had the opportunity.”

Adam Jefferson said he appreciates the MetroHealth group. This is the second year he has gotten help from the MetroHealth team.

“If you want the help it's there you just gotta know where to go to get it,” Jefferson said.

While those in need seek help and fill up on food, the city's future doctors get hands-on experience, fueling the program's second goal.

“It's also to teach medical students about how important it is to give back and to have empathy and to do medicine the right way,” Dr. Chrisman-Khawam said.

As the program continues to make an impact. Doctor Chrisman-Khawam hopes more people step up to the plate.

“I'm really proud of the people that do help but there are so many of us that could do so much more,” she said.

Doctors will set up at Denison UCC and at St. Malachi Church every Friday night until the Spring in collaboration with the program run by the Metanoia Project, but they need help keeping it up.

Dr. Chrisman-Khawam said the group needs monetary and clothing donations.

For more information on how to donate, contact Nancy with the Metanoia Volunteer Coordinator at metavolcoornancy@gmail.com.

This story is part of A Better Land, an ongoing series that investigates Northeast Ohio's deep-seated systemic problems. Additionally, it puts a spotlight on the community heroes fighting for positive change in Cleveland and throughout the region. If you have an idea for A Better Land story, tell us here.