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Medical Society of Milwaukee County makes landmark donation providing secure housing as a determinant of good health

Milwaukee, WI – The Medical Society of Milwaukee County, representing thousands of area physicians, made history today, by endowing $100,000 to the Milwaukee County Housing First program. The milestone gift, representing the Medical Society of Milwaukee’s largest donation in its history, is significant beyond its monetary value.

“This donation and partnership with Housing First is empowering our physicians to really make a difference in people’s lives by supporting their medical practices to help their patients find safe, stable housing,” said Kathy Schmitz, Medical Society of Milwaukee County Executive Director. “In cooperation with Milwaukee County Housing First, it is our vision to eliminate homelessness as a contributor to poor health. We know that health care is not top of mind to the homeless, but once trust is built between the homeless and physicians positive health outcomes can occur.”

Dr. Amar Ambardekar, President of the Medical Society Board of Directors, stated, “Physicians have a unique voice and expertise in the community, witnessing every day the effects that poor housing has on their patients in the emergency departments and clinics.” He added, this unparalleled donation will fund two part-time Housing Health Navigators, provide onsite health screenings for the homeless, and place Medical Society Board Members to serve on the Community Justice Council to provide expert thought leadership on this issue.

“We live in a world of 15-minute patient visits, not only does the physician need to address the patient’s physical concerns but may also be told by the patient that he or she doesn’t have a place to stay,” said Dr. Ambardekar. “How do you manage that in 15 minutes with little or no housing resources? Physicians will now have direct access to a dedicated Housing Health Navigator to support their patients.”

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele stated, “I am so grateful to the Medical Society of Milwaukee County for their generous contribution to Milwaukee County’s proven Housing First model that not only helps put homeless individuals in permanent housing, but also provides the opportunity for a better and healthier life. In addition to the financial contribution, what is most significant about this is the recognition that access to secure housing is a critical determinant of health. No amount of medical care can compete in terms of producing positive health outcomes.”

The donation from the Medical Society of Milwaukee County is the culmination of an extensive year-long study, including key stakeholder interviews across the county, member listening sessions, and an online survey of Medical Society members. The Medical Society Board explored best practices of other organizations and ultimately an ad hoc committee of the Board developed a Housing as Health strategic plan and steering committee.

Living its brand, Powered by Physicians, Compelled by Community, Medical Society physicians continue to be compelled by critical community needs to voluntarily step forward, providing health care in the field to those who are affected by hunger, the opioid crisis and homelessness, conditions referred to as health determinants.

The donation was made public at the Medical Society of Milwaukee County Awards Dinner –
LEADERSHIP IN ACTION on Saturday, March 9th. Leaders being recognized included Milwaukee
County Executive Chris Abele, Dr. Barbara Horner-Ibler, who is a community health proponent
for the underserved, Bob Burmeister who is the founder of Mr. Bob’s Under the Bridge, and
medical student leader Megan Cory.

About the Medical Society of Milwaukee County

A Legacy of Leadership and Innovation: Established in 1846, the Medical Society of Milwaukee
County is the premier organization of physicians that provides leadership on critical health
issues, such as prescription drug safety and the social determinants of health, to improve the
overall health status of the community. We believe physicians have a profound impact on our
community, inspiring hope and healing.

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