Health and Medical News and Resources

General interest items edited by Janice Flahiff

[Article] Hospitals find ways to navigate homeless into shelters

From the 6 November 2013 Los Angeles Daily News article

WOODLAND HILLS >> Almost once a week, Guadalupe Tolentino’s liver and bloodstream drown in liquor and sorrow, and that gets him a free ambulance ride to Kaiser Permanente’s Emergency Department.

There, doctors and nurses flush the alcohol out of the 55-year-old man’s veins with IV fluids, calm his tremors with vitamins and medications and, if he stays long enough, provide him a meal and clean clothes.

Despite an existence in crisis, liquor is never far from Tolentino’s mind, and neither is Kaiser’s emergency department in Woodland Hills, which he visits up to 40 times a year.

For Tolentino and other chronic homeless men and women like him, the emergency department is a place of stability and peace, where the sound of rushing crash carts and the beeps of telemetry monitors can be a lullaby compared to the sounds of sleeping on the streets.

But for the hospital’s “homeless navigator” Jonathan Lopez, those such as Tolentino, known as frequent flyers, also are never far from his mind. Most pose no harm, but those repeated returns show that their chronic drug or alcohol dependence as well as their homelessness go untreated. And it means the hospital pays an average of $1,500 a night for their stay, money that is never recuperated.

“When a frequent flyer returns to our ED my adrenalin gets going,” said Lopez, “I instantly start to process where I might be able to coordinate a placement,” Lopez said. “I get to relate to these individuals in an extraordinary way.”

Hospitals around the country have been increasingly using homeless navigators to help place indigent men and women into treatments centers or housing after discharge. In the Kaiser system, which has 14 medical centers in Southern California, Lopez’s position is part of a first-of-its-kind, two-year-old pilot program launched at the Woodland Hills campus. He said he crafted the program after watching a similar approach formed by the San Gabriel Valley Consortium on Homelessness.

Read the entire article here

 

November 6, 2013 - Posted by | health care | , , , , , ,

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