Oct. 26, 2022

Physicians accept 36-hour challenge living on Saskatoon streets

Three Saskatoon physicians are taking part in a 36-hour challenge to survive as if homeless on the streets. The Sanctum Survivor Winter Challenge takes place Nov. 3-4.

Drs. Annette Epp, Morris Markentin, and Jocelyne Martel will be given tasks to complete that aim to replicate the challenges faced by people who are homeless in Saskatoon. They will not be allowed any personal belongings and can use their phones only to post about their experiences.

The challenge is a fundraiser for Sanctum Care Group. Links to each physician’s donation page are below.

The physicians:

Dr. Annette Epp

“The challenges of Sanctum Survivor are physical – being cold, hungry and tired with very sore feet. However, for me, the worst is the emotional toll of seeing how people live in these circumstances and how they are often treated by others, without respect or dignity. Small acts of kindness have immense impact and I will never forget when someone was kind to me during my previous experience in Sanctum Survivor 2017.”

“We are doing this to raise awareness and shed light on the struggles many face with homelessness and poverty. Physicians know that poverty is linked to poor health outcomes. It is one of the major socioeconomic determinants of health. If we are willing to put ourselves in such a vulnerable position and walk in the shoes of someone homeless, we hope this will inspire other colleagues to take notice and help work to close the gaps and improve the health of this vulnerable population.”

To donate: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/sanctum-care-group-inc/p2p/SanctumSurvivor2022/page/annette-epp/

Dr. Morris Markentin

“On a daily basis I hear stories of my patients’ issues – homelessness and poverty being the two biggest social issues in the past year. I live vicariously through my patients often feeling inadequate and unable to help them.”

“Sanctum Survivor hopefully will bring increased awareness – maybe change will come – if it comes from this then it is the least I can do to support the people I see on a daily basis. History has shown that physicians can bring about change – whether social or other. It is important that our profession continue to advocate for patient and public issues.”

Donate here: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/sanctum-care-group-inc/p2p/SanctumSurvivor2022/page/morris-markentin/

Dr. Jocelyne Martel

“I am accepting the challenge to raise awareness about the gap between what people have and what they need to be healthy in our community. Housing is the most basic need. I feel very fortunate in my life and it is difficult to see another perspective.  The effort and exhaustion of surviving 36 hours accessing basic shelter and food will be a reality I have not ever faced.”

“Physicians have an obligation to strive to improve all aspects of human and societal health in individuals and in our community. There is no more basic aspect to primary care than safe housing, adequate nutrition, and a supportive humane environment.”

Donate here: https://www.canadahelps.org/en/charities/sanctum-care-group-inc/p2p/SanctumSurvivor2022/page/jocelyne-martel/

The challenge:

The challenge is organized by Sanctum Care Group, which is the first hospice for people living with and affected by HIV/AIDS.

Sanctum Care Group operates an HIV hospice and transitional care home that provides 24-hour transitional care for HIV positive people who have social and high-risk behaviors and conditions, such as homelessness. The home also provides end of life care for HIV-positive people with a palliative diagnosis. Home staff coordinate care for Saskatoon’s most marginalized population in a home setting.

Sanctum Care Group also operates a prenatal care home for high-risk and HIV positive pregnant women who risk of having their babies apprehended at birth, which is called Sanctum 1.5. The home opened Oct. 1, 2018, and as of May 2022, 92 mothers have successfully completed the program, and 93 babies have been prevented from entering foster care, according to the organization’s website. In addition, 56 other children have been returned to their birth mothers.

In March 2020, the Canadian Institute for Health Research granted the Sanctum Care Group $1.3 million to support the evaluation and creation of an evidence base to support the application of Sanctum 1.5’s model provincially, nationally, and globally.

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