New Program Helps Bring Safety & Stability to Homeless Patients After They’re Discharged From Hospital
SAN DIEGO – Some of San Diego County’s most vulnerable residents – the homeless who need a safe place to recuperate after being discharged from the hospital but lack the basic resources that are critical to their recovery – have a new source of help with a unique partnership between Scripps Health and Catholic Charities.
The program is designed to fill a gap for medically discharged homeless patients who require recuperative time and follow-up services, but lack medical support after leaving the hospital. The program brings a measure of stability to homeless patients discharged from Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego by offering emergency shelter and individualized case management services from Catholic Charities. Services include access to motel vouchers for needed rest; transportation to medical appointments; funds for food and medical expenses; and help finding long-term housing and employment.
The collaboration – believed to be the first of its kind in San Diego between a hospital system and a community service agency – is now reaching the end of its first year, and has recently been renewed for a second year. It is funded by a $40,000 grant from Scripps Health. The program has served more than 70 homeless patients in its first year, with a success rate of approximately 65 percent, considered high among recovery programs for this population. The program is a collaborative effort between discharge planners at Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego and case management services staff with Catholic Charities.
“We’re exploring this new approach as a way to provide comprehensive, coordinated services to homeless patients in a way that’s designed to ensure a continuum of care that is not currently available,” said Davis Cracroft, M.D., senior medical director and emergency physician with Scripps Mercy Hospital San Diego.
A 2006 report by the United Way of San Diego reveals there are approximately 7,300 urban homeless people in the San Diego region, with more than half located in the downtown San Diego, Hillcrest and Mid-City areas. Approximately 1,300 of these are identified as “chronic homeless,” meaning they have been homeless for more than one year or without a home four times in the last three years.
“We believe that working with these individuals during the early stages of their recuperation will allow us to help them more effectively, both in the short term and hopefully in the long run through lifestyle adjustments,” said Sister RayMonda Duvall, executive director of Catholic Charities.
Typically when homeless patients are discharged from an inpatient hospital stay, hospital discharge planners will help place them in a shelter or board-and-care facility and provide them with needed medications. But many shelter beds are unavailable for bed rest during the day, and conditions may not offer the optimal recuperative environment for someone whose immune system may be compromised. Also, many homeless patients don’t have access to transportation to follow-up appointments, healthy meals and other important elements of their recuperation.