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Addressing Homelessness in Seattle Requires Collaboration and Resolve

“Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”  - Benjamin Franklin

Last month, I had the honor of introducing the keynote speaker, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, at the Plymouth Housing Key to Hope Luncheon in Seattle. Swedish has been proud to partner with Plymouth Housing and we are deeply committed to the outstanding work and profound impact that the organization makes in our community every day.

Like Dr. Gupta and so many other doctors, I entered the field of medicine to help people – to enable them to live healthy lives, especially those who do not have the means or resources to care for themselves.

But as a community, we are not fulfilling the mandate we have set for ourselves. In King County alone, there are over 12,000 homeless people and thousands more who struggle to put food on the table because they are forced to balance providing for their families with the high cost of medical care.

These challenges are visible every day at Swedish. Like hospitals across the country, our emergency rooms care for chronically homeless, mentally ill and drug-addicted patients who cycle through acute care facilities because they have nowhere else to go.

As physicians, community leaders, and compassionate humans, we are failing them.

These are not just public health problems and they are not just housing problems. They are not problems that lie at the feet of our elected officials alone. In our community, we all have a role to play in building a solution that will ensure the people we live alongside are healthy, cared for, and able to provide themselves a fulfilling life.

That is the foundation of our mission as our community’s health care partner, and it is why we are honored to support Plymouth Housing.

No one organization or leader is able to solve this alone. We need to invest in partnerships and commit to true collaboration between health care innovators, nonprofit groups, elected officials, and business and academic leaders to address homelessness in a meaningful way.

We need to bring a diversity of perspectives, skills, backgrounds and expertise to the table to identify new solutions, to ensure we are approaching this challenge inclusively, and to strengthen our resolve, compassion and impact.

In reflecting on equality in America, Benjamin Franklin observed that, “Justice will not be served until those who are unaffected are as outraged as those who are.”

We all have a critical responsibility to help those in need. And now is the time to act. Please join Swedish, Plymouth Housing, and the countless other organizations, companies and committed individuals as we work together to make real, meaningful progress toward the goal of eliminating homelessness in our community.

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