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No Place To Go: Addressing the Challenge of Homeless Patients in Sacramento

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Publication Date: August 2006

Publisher(s): California HealthCare Foundation

Author(s): Jennifer Joynt

Topic: Health (Health services for low income people)
Social conditions (Poverty and homelessness)

Type: Brief

Coverage: California


Providing health care for the homeless presents a difficult juggling act for hospitals working to balance financial considerations with patient and community responsibility. One area of particular concern is how to provide proper recovery time for homeless patients once they are discharged from an acute hospital setting. This report, No Place To Go: Addressing the Challenge of Homeless Patients in Sacramento, provides an overview of a local collaboration between community organizations, hospital systems, and government working to develop, fund, and manage a recovery shelter for homeless patients in Sacramento County. It outlines the roles of participating stakeholders, processes for referrals and discharge, and recommendations for communities considering similar programs. All local hospital systems are involved in the project and contribute equal amounts of funding, regardless of the number of homeless patients they treat. Although it stops short of administering direct medical care, the program has links to treatment services and provides a case worker to help patients access medical resources. The project's goal is to improve quality of care and increase the probability of recovery for homeless patients. Other benefits include freeing up hospital beds for those in need of acute care and reducing readmissions and emergency room visits.