Street Doc Helps Those in Need : Dr. Clarence Taylor

by Michael L. McCray

There is no group of people more aware of the effects of the changing political climate in America than those physicians who treat the homeless in America, and Dr. Clarence Taylor is one of those doctors.

Dr. Taylor is well aware of the plight of the less advantaged, being the son of an activist minister from Washington D.C. “My father was very active in the civil rights movement and helped instill a deep compassion for the less fortunate members of society and respect for the dignity of all people. I was marching in the movement from a very early age and our home was a center for people of all races concerned about civil rights," stated Dr. Taylor.

His father and mother managed to raise eight children all of whom attended college and postgraduate work. One of Dr. Taylor's sisters became one of the youngest federal judges ever appointed to the bench by President Carter.

Dr. Taylor became a physician because he wanted to make a difference and help those less fortunate than himself, but stays active with his first love-- music. He is the founder of Doc City Production and has produced his first CD with a local Oberlin band called JA-HFU. He is presently working on a second CD.

This work is in addition to being on the staff & faculty of Cleveland Neighborhood Health Services, Case Western University Hospitals, Cleveland Metro Health, and working for Health Care for the Homeless.

A lot of the homeless men look up to Dr. Taylor. Because he dresses so stylishly, many are shocked when they discover he is their physician. He is respectful to all he treats and goes out of his way to help many homeless as he combats many of societies public health concerns. Tuberculosis, AIDS, STDs, infections, Influenzas, Hepatitis, are all part of the battle being waged on the streets of Cleveland by Dr. Taylor for Health Care for the Homeless.

Health Care for the Homeless was begun in large cities to keep the emergency room free from homeless people with no other access to the health care system. Many non-emergency cases were being handled by emergency rooms and clogging the emergency health care system.

Serious public health problems contracted by homeless individuals were arriving into the health care system in a far more serious state. "Problems that may have been minor were arriving as major problems and needless deaths were occurring," states Dr. Taylor. “The cost of letting these problems get out of hand is staggering. A case of hepatitis “A” not caught can infect many people. It can lead to hospitalization at an average cost of $1,000 a day. Tuberculosis that is on the rise in the homeless community here and across the nation is a terribly expensive disease. It is also highly contagious and extremely difficult to battle. Many of the wonder drugs for all infections are not working as well as they once did.”

“There are many personal medical conditions that have much greater social cost if they are allowed to go unchecked. Private health struggles like cancer, glaucoma, diabetes, mental illness, drug addictions, cuts, colds and other health problems that plague the homeless can often cost society much more if allowed to progress. You have many people with health problems that have to be managed. It will increase the cost of health care in this country significantly if these people’s needs are not met. These people will end up in emergency rooms with advanced illness.” according to Dr. Taylor.

Copyright for the Homeless Grapevine published Spring 1996 – Issue 15