Vulnerable populations are at increased risk of receiving variation in medical care based on financial circumstances or social aspects such as age, race, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, spirituality, disability, or socioeconomic or insurance status (“Care of Vulnerable Populations,” 2006). Where I work, we get people all over the state sent to us for the procedures that we do at our hospital. Many of these patients are non-English speakers, which makes this experience even more traumatizing. These patients become vulnerable to adverse health outcomes. When you are ill, it is essential to be able to communicate with the medical staff. The language barriers cause inferior health outcomes. I often see that these patients won’t express how they feel or communicate to the healthcare staff what they need, some feel scared or wait for their family to come to let the staff know what’s going on, which then causes very poor outcomes. Nowadays, I think it’s much worse because the family is not in the hospitals or the patients don’t say anything to the family because they don’t want to worry them. As a future Advance Registered Nurse, I believe that systematic efforts should be made to reach out to the non-English speaking communities and provide them with education on health-related research and prevention as well as intervention programs, get them more involved in their health (Jang et al., 2016). I also believe that here should educate and provide the healthcare staff on how to take care of a non-English speaking patient, for example, provide paper education in different languages. I know many use the blue phone, for translation but if your anything like my hospital it’s not always easy to find a blue phone. Let the patient feel safe by letting them know that you are there for them, and they can call you anytime, get families involved as much as possible and the list can go on, but none of this can happen if we don’t educate our staff or provide the right tools for them.
Sadly, in Los Angeles, California (CA), seeing homeless people daily is not unusual. There are areas lined up with tents under bridges, along sidewalks, and in trenches. Homeless people not living in a tent may live in their car or an RV for shelter. The space in shelters is limited. However, this author has encountered several homeless patients not wanting to be in a shelter due to rules, regulations, restrictions, and lack of privacy. Characteristics of homelessness are people suffering from mental health issues, addictions, and financial disparities. Wheldon et al., (2020) describe vulnerable populations as those excessively burdened by disease and inadequate health due to their location, financial, and cultural hurdles to health care.
There are more complex issues and characteristics of why people are homeless, such as sexual identity, run-aways, and human trafficking. Research has shown location and culture can have a great influence on predictions and susceptibility of chronic health issues, such as cancer and cardiovascular disease (Wheldon et al., 2020). Advanced practice nurses (APNs)in California or elsewhere can start by not having biases of non-white cultures and uphold the nursing professional code of ethics for all populations (Fitzgerald et al., 2017). Having an upstream approach to advocate for homelessness is an important intervention for APNs. Opportunities to advocate for safe and affordable housing are to engage in the Fair Housing Act to prevent discriminations and to support more funding for rental help programs (Williams et al., 2018).