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To combat heat deaths, Phoenix nonprofit will offer IV hydration to unsheltered people

There was a 52% increase in heat-related deaths from 2022 to 2023 in Maricopa County. It’s why Circle the City started an IV hydration program for individuals living on the street this week. 

Heat can be a death sentence for unsheltered people in Phoenix. Last year, 45% of heat-related deaths were among that population. 

Perla Puebla is the associate medical director of street medicine at Circle the City, which provides mobile health care to Phoenix’s homeless.

"This is for the patients that are awake and talking and are experiencing dehydration there, they have nausea, vomiting, they're profusely sweating, their temperatures elevated," she says.

And they don’t want to go to the emergency department. 

"Honestly, that was a big problem last year. They talked about, they're not leaving their pets and they also, they don't like how they're treated sometimes," Puebla said.

Puebla says she and her team can provide IV infusions wherever it's needed.

"So, if they're at the soup kitchen and they need it, we'll administer there. Or if we're at the park; by a highway; you know, wherever it is that we're seeing the patients that day," Puebla said.

The street medicine team now carries five 1-liter saline bags with them at all times.]

Kathy Ritchie has 20 years of experience reporting and writing stories for national and local media outlets — nearly a decade of it has been spent in public media.