Promoting Health in Homeless Shelters

The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County (DOH) created the Promoting Health in Homeless Shelters (PHHS) work group under the auspices of THHI to bring awareness to the threat of TB and other communicable diseases that disproportionately affect the homeless population.  This was in response to the increase in tuberculosis (TB) outbreaks among homeless populations across the U.S., including Jacksonville, Florida.  The goal of the work group is to create a plan to prevent a major TB outbreak in homeless shelters in the Tampa/Hillsborough County community.

Even though our community has not yet had a massive outbreak like Jacksonville, local homeless shelters have had incidences of TB exposure.  The DOH TB Center has been able to respond to these situations quickly and intervene before TB spreads within a facility; however, there may be instances where disease transmission may go unnoticed in the shelters.

DOH engaged representatives from CoC shelter providers to form the PHHS work group to better understand the needs for preventing infections and promoting overall health in the shelters, as well as the barriers to implementing these practices.

 

Progress

The PHHS work group provided an update of their progress at the January 2015 CoC meeting.  Click to view the PHHS Presentation for April 2016 CoC Meeting.

The PHHS work group provided an update of their progress at the January 2015 CoC meeting.  Click to view the PHHS Presentation for CoC – January 2015.

Since the start of the work group, the DOH–TB Center has been providing fee-waived TB services to individuals referred by qualifying agencies within the CoC. The DOH-TB Center has received referrals for TB testing from various CoC agencies and responded to a TB exposure at a shelter here in Hillsborough County.  DOH was able to find the sick individual and get them into care, identify their contacts through client bed logs, provide a mass TB testing event at the facility to determine if anyone was positive, and provide preventive treatment to those who tested positive.

Additionally, the PHHS group has developed the Infection Prevention Plan and Guidelines and the Health Promotion Toolkit for Homeless Shelters.

 

Infection Prevention Plan and Guidelines

The Infection Prevention Plan Guidelines v2 3. – December 2015 (IPP) is a template for shelters to use to assess the level of risk of TB transmission within their facility and implement measures to reduce the risk of that happening.

DOH and the PHHS work group recommends that each shelter adopts an infection prevention policy that assess the risk of TB transmission in your facility. This is the annual shelter assessment plan to help identify if your shelter has a high, medium, or low risk of TB transmission and offers ways for your shelter to reduce that risk.

The 5 parts to the IPP include templates for symptom screenings, referral letters, cough/illness alert log, annual shelter assessment plan, and a health promotion toolkit.

 

Health Promotion Toolkit for Homeless Shelters

The Health Promotion Toolkit for Homeless Shelters_v3 contains information about ways to promote overall health in homeless shelters and includes the following topics:

  • Hygiene: Cough Etiquette
  • Hygiene: Hand Washing
  • Preventing Bedbug Infestations
  • Nutrition: Why is it a Problem?
  • Food Safety
  • Health Care
  • Smoking Cessation
  • Family Planning
  • Condom Use: Safer Sexual Behavior
  • Testing: Know Your Status
  • Vaccine-Preventable Diseases
  • Influenza and Norovirus
  • Prevent Illness from Mosquito Bites
  • Oral Health
  • Substance Abuse
  • Mental Health
  • Sharps/Waste Definition
  • Standard Precautions
  • Cleaning and Safety

 

For more information about the PHHS work group,information provided above and/or the services available through the DOH in Hillsborough County, please contact:

Kevin Baker, CHES, Health Educator
Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, Division of Disease Control, TB Center
813-307-8015 x4765 or Kevin.Baker@FLHealth.gov

or

Jylmarie Lewis, MPH, CPH, TB Program Manager
Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, Division of Disease Control, TB Center
813-307-8015 x4701 or Jylmarie.Lewis@FLHealth.gov.