ShelterCare is proud to announce that Dr. Rick Kincade will serve as the honorary chairperson for 2016’s I ShelterCare About Homelessness campaign. Dr. Kincade knows as well as anybody in our community how much homelessness and a lack of safe and stable housing can negatively impact health. He has been practicing medicine in Lane County for more than 30 years and in recent years has become focused on community health. He is the chairman of the United Way’s 100% Health Community Coalition and has taken a lead role in conducting the Lane County Health Needs Assessment and creating the Community Health Improvement Plan. In 2015 Dr. Kincade was named Medical Director for the Community Health Centers of Lane County, a role that has him overseeing six primary care clinics, while still seeing patients at least one day per week.
We recently had a conversation with Dr. Kincade about homelessness, housing and health in Lane County.
ShelterCare: Why do you “ShelterCare About Homelessness”?
Dr. Kincade: I care because stable housing has a direct impact on health—especially supportive housing that includes much-needed services for people. ShelterCare is unique. It doesn’t just provide a roof over people’s heads: it creates an environment in which they are protected, supported, and can choose to live a healthy, more fulfilled life.
ShelterCare: As a family practice physician, have you ever had any firsthand experience seeing the positive impact of housing on patient health?
Dr. Kincade: I see the impacts all the time—I’ve treated many homeless patients, individuals and families. Stable housing inevitably leads patients toward a healthy lifestyle. Housing stability also encourages people with chronic diseases, like diabetes and asthma, to seek treatment and have better success in managing their illness.
ShelterCare: We are starting to hear a lot of conversation about the relationship among housing, health and healthcare—why are they linked?
Dr. Kincade: I think about Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. Housing and shelter satisfy some of our most basic needs, for security and protection. Access to safe housing is also one of the social determinants of health, along with things like food security and income security. Ultimately, homelessness—not having a safe place to live—negatively impacts health. The healthcare system is financially and ethically accountable for managing health, so it should care about homelessness and a lack of access to safe housing because those issues impact health and increase the cost of providing healthcare.
ShelterCare: What developing solutions to homelessness in Lane County look promising to you?
Dr. Kincade: I see many positive trends in Lane County. First, legislative and community leaders are starting to develop policies and laws that will lead to stable housing for more people. Politicians are listening now, which is paving the way for creating more housing as well as support programs. Second, health agencies are beginning to understand and fund transitional and respite care, which is an important component of fighting homelessness. And finally, housing will be central to the new Community Health Improvement Plan. Leaders in Lane County are now talking the same language when discussing housing and health and working towards the same goals.
The planning work is leading to other positive developments. People now understand that there is not going to be one solution that fits everyone—different populations will need different approaches. There is also a focus on finding real, long-term benefits not just quick fixes. Finally, there is a realization that all the concerned parties—community leaders, healthcare providers, government agencies and nonprofits like ShelterCare—need to collaborate and coordinate their efforts to be successful.
ShelterCare: What should people know about Dr. Rick Kincade on a personal level?
Dr. Kincade: I’m happily married and the father of two amazing daughters. Even though I’m a California native, I love the Pacific Northwest lifestyle, especially bicycling around Lane County, gardening, and home-brewing.
ShelterCare: Thank you for your time and for ShelterCaring About Homelessness!