Exiles, precarious workers, women fleeing violence: the Center for Housing and Assistance to Homeless Persons (CHAPSA), located in Nanterre, welcomes homeless people and accompanies them in a care process. At the head of the medical service, Dr. Valerie Thomas opens the doors of the hospital to photographer Cyril Zannettacci.
With its airs of abandoned hospital, the center welcomes homeless people since the end of the 19th century. Originally, it was a prison to keep beggars away. It was not until the beginning of the 20th century that it became the center we know today. But not having the same resources, nor the same reputation as classical medicine, social medicine suffers from a considerable lack of means, budgets and staff.
The health crisis has obviously added new constraints and difficulties to the management of the center. Although it was opened in 2020, a Covid unit receiving cases infected by the virus during the Covid-19 pandemic had to be closed the following year. There were not enough medical staff to care for all the patients who presented themselves.
Each wave of infection is a new ordeal for the hospital and its reduced staff, who are less and less able to cope with the conditions in which they work. Almost all departments are understaffed and the staff, on the verge of burnout, are struggling to maintain the care and protect the health of the homeless.