Medical residents serve community, build relationships through street medicine

Riley Brazil, M.D., internal medicine resident at Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, serves clients experiencing homelessness at a hygiene center in Lynnwood, Washington.

Every week, new doctors with Providence Regional Medical Center Everett meet individuals experiencing homelessness where they are – at hygiene stations, pop-up clinics and on the street. They might bandage wounds, lance boils or teach clients to check their blood sugar.

This important work is done through the WSU Internal Medicine Residency Program - Everett and with nonprofit partner MercyWatch. But it’s about more than medical care.

“It’s mostly about being human with someone,” said Riley Brazil, M.D., second-year medical resident. “It’s quality time spent getting to know them, establishing rapport, so there’s a familiar, welcoming face the next time they come to the clinic or emergency room.”

MercyWatch medical director, Sheila Murphy, CRNA, agrees: “We want to show the doctors it’s not just about medical treatment. It’s about building trust, addressing the clients’ psyche, their homelessness, etc.”

During 2022, medical residents at Providence Everett logged more than 600 volunteer hours with MercyWatch, caring for the health and well-being of some of the most vulnerable citizens in Snohomish County.

Riley Brazil, M.D., and a MercyWatch client discuss her health concerns at a hygiene center in Lynnwood, Washington.

Their dedication and compassion are paying off. They’re improving access to care and building connections with a marginalized population that’s often distrustful of the medical community. The relationships and trust nurtured by the medical residents have resulted in many MercyWatch clients visiting the on-site internal medicine clinic for care.

“For me, a career in medicine requires an active role in serving people facing poverty and homelessness,” Dr. Brazil said. “It makes me a better doctor – and a better person.”

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