Temporary shelter provides safe place for discharged homeless patients
Since UC Davis Health System and other health systems and organizations established a temporary shelter two-and-a-half years ago for homeless patients to recuperate after their hospital discharge, the shelter has served more than 300 individuals, with UC Davis Medical Center being the single-largest source of referrals.
Located at the Salvation Army B Street Shelter in downtown Sacramento, the Interim Care Program provides an 18-bed shelter that allows homeless men and women to recuperate from their medical conditions after being discharged from a hospital and referred by the hospital's nursing staff.
“The Interim Care Program is a tremendous benefit for all involved: patients, hospitals and the community at large,” said Patsy Bethards, associate chief of the Department of Clinical Social Services and Case Management at the health system.
Sponsoring organizationsIn addition to UC Davis Health System and The Salvation Army, the other organizations that sponsor the program are Catholic Healthcare West, Sutter Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, The Effort and Sacramento County. UC Davis, Sutter, Kaiser and Catholic Healthcare West each contribute $65,000 to fund the program, while the county contributes $120,000.
– Patsy Bethards, associate chief of the Department of Clinical Social Services and Case Management
Since the program's inception in March 2005, it had received 448 placement referrals through June 2007, with 193, or 43 percent, coming from UC Davis Health System. Of those referrals, 295 were admitted, with 139 of the admissions resulting from UC Davis referrals.
A supportive environment for indigent patientsBethards said, “For the indigent patients, they appreciate a supportive environment where they can be safe and off the streets, and can recover from their illnesses and injuries. They also have access to resources that can help them get out of their homeless situations.”
Hospitals benefit from having a safe place to send patients who are not in need of acute care, but need an environment where they can heal, Bethards said. In addition, the program allows for a more appropriate use of hospital resources.
The community as a whole benefits from the program by having fewer homeless people on the street with medical problems, Bethards added.
The program provides homeless people with a better chance to heal in a clean and stable environment. Patients may stay up to six weeks, are provided three meals a day, and have access to support services, such as substance abuse counseling. The average stay for a patient in the program is 32 days.
Before the program was established, homeless men and women had no option except to return to the streets after being discharged from a hospital. As a result, they often would have to return because of repetitive injuries.
Under the Interim Care Program, homeless patients ready for discharge are referred by their nursing staff to the program. All referrals must meet admission criteria before being admitted. They must be alert, oriented and understand that they must take their medications as prescribed.