Michael McConnell Leading Fight For Bathrooms and Medical Aid
From CBC Radio Program As It Happens with Carol Off and Jeff Douglas
San Diego is experiencing the worst outbreak in decades of hepatitis A, and the homeless population has been hit the hardest.
This is in part because the city hasn’t equipped homeless people with the necessary tools to fight the disease, says the former Vice Chair of the Regional Task Force on the Homeless in San Diego.
“The city does a poor job of providing basic need sanitation, rest rooms, hand washing, places to throw garbage. So I’m not overly surprised that this is continuing to be a huge outbreak,” Michael McConnell told As It Happens guest host Susan Bonner.
Since November of last year, 15 people have died from the disease and 263 people have been hospitalised.
Local health officials are reporting that around 70 per cent of the people affected are homeless.
McConnell spoke with Bonner about why homeless people in San Diego are vulnerable to hepatitis A. Here is part of their conversation.
‘We can’t just cycle people through our emergency rooms and our jails and just send them right back into the horror that is the streets of San Diego.’ – Michael McConnell
Mr. McConnell, local health officials are saying that as many as 70% of the people who’ve been hospitalised with hep A are homeless. Can you tell us about the homeless population and what living conditions they face in the city?
“We have a large unsheltered population of people experiencing homelessness in San Diego county.
“The city does a poor job of providing basic need sanitation, rest rooms, hand washing, places to throw garbage. So I’m not overly surprised that this is continuing to be a huge outbreak.”
Click Here to listen to radio interview and read the rest of the article.
Health conditions in other cities are similar to those in San Diego. The authorities have continued to ignore basic health concerns for decades. The shortage of public bathrooms in Los Angeles is at a critical stage. Because of the huge surge of homeless folks, most restaurants and even fast food locations have installed code locks on their bathrooms to keep out non-customers. It is a challenge to find a bathroom if you are homeless.
TIP To folks living in vehicles: An old guy living in his van offered this tip to Gypsy Cool many years ago. Get a used orange juice size bottle and fill it with a mix of liquid soap and water. You can use this on the road to wash your hands. Another similar sized bottle with just pure water can be used to wash off the soapy water.
Solutions Ignored by Cities in America
The City of Los Angeles has a lot of unused properties they could turn into homeless centers. An old Library could be set up with washers and dryers, showers and bathrooms to service homeless folks. This is low-cost compared to the billions they say they are going to use to build housing. In England, pensioners work at the public bathrooms and collect tips. They keep the bathroom clean and stocked up. Why not hire some homeless folks and do the same in Los Angeles? The City of Burbank has a Temporary Aid building where local homeless folks can get an appointment to shower or do their laundry. It is mainly run by volunteers, with a small professional paid staff. Los Angeles and San Diego could easily open many of these operations at a very low cost. The question is: Why aren’t they doing it? Maybe the billions of dollars raised for the homeless are going to be funneled to the Mayor’s cronies in the building trades to build “housing”.. Building ten houses a year does nothing to solve the problem. Opening 50 bathrooms would save lives.
Jammed Emergency Rooms
Think of the cost to treat homeless folks for hepatitis in emergency rooms and hospitals. This can be prevented and the millions of dollars can be used for bathrooms, a much more cost effective way to deal with the problem.