Homelessness in California is at a crisis point, and hospitals are on the front lines. Teams of hospital social workers, case managers, nurses, doctors, and others, work tirelessly to meet the complex needs of Californians experiencing homelessness. They employ comprehensive strategies to care for and safely discharge their homeless patients, addressing their complex social needs with food, clothing, medications, connections to community-based services, and more. But just as the reasons for homelessness are multi-faceted, so too are solutions, which must include more than just hospitals. Civic leaders, elected officials, the business community, non-profit, and social service organizations all will play a vital role in addressing this crisis.
About Homeless Patients
In California, 1.4 million people live with a serious mental illness, while millions more struggle with day-to-day mental health challenges. However, most don’t get the care and treatment they need.
Ignacio has been living in the same industrial alley near the Los Angeles River for the past 20 years. Tyresha calls San Francisco home, but has been without stable housing for more than a decade. And while they may be hundreds of miles apart, their lives have both been touched by health care professionals in their communities.
CHA has updated the Discharge Planning for Homeless Patients guidebook and released a free PDF download for CHA members.
California has an estimated 134,000 homeless individuals — more than any other state in the nation. Hospitals are on the front lines of this crisis, employing comprehensive strategies to address homeless patients’ complex needs and safely discharge them. CHA has created a number of videos to showcase hospitals engaged in this work.
In addition, CHA has developed in-depth resources to help member hospitals comply with a law passed in 2018 — SB 1152 — that imposed new requirements on how hospitals manage and discharge homeless patients who present in the emergency department. See link at the right to download CHA’s guidebook.
The California Department of Public Health has issued All Facilities Letter 19-01 reminding hospitals of the new law requiring that they try to coordinate homeless patients’ discharge to appropriate area shelters or other community-based services. To help hospitals comply with the law, CHA has developed a guidebook titled Discharge Planning for Homeless Patients.