Homeless Initiatives Stress Institutional Care Savings

Both of these articles were of interest as this is also a significant issue in New Jersey for the homeless.

Like some other cities across the country, Cleveland lacks appropriate places to bring homeless patients discharged from hospitals, reported the Plain Dealer. People too ill to care for themselves are released to shelters, which aren’t equipped or staffed to provide medical care, the article said. Though homeless patients may be kept in hospitals longer than people who have homes, the facilities must eventually release them to free up beds for other patients, said one medical center employee. A network of Cleveland medical clinics for the poor has tasked one of its volunteers to explore respite care, a solution used in at least 40 U.S. and Canadian cities. Among the top such facilities is Washington, D.C.’s Christ House, launched thanks to an anonymous $2.5 million donation, the article said. Staff at the 30-bed facility care for homeless people recovering from cancer treatments, hip replacements, or other medical problems. Respite care saves money in the long run by reducing use of emergency medical care, sources said.

When fully implemented, California’s voter-approved ballot measure taxing millionaires to pay for expanded mental health services will provide $600 million to $800 million annually for new programs, according to a column from the Sacramento Bee. Approved just over two years ago, the Proposition 63 funds are starting to flow into county coffers statewide.

The initiative seeks to reduce homelessness and other outcomes of psychiatric disorders. “The state is also planning an aggressive effort to track the results so that policymakers and citizens can learn which programs are working, which are not, and how the new spending is changing the lives of the mentally ill and the fabric of California’s communities,” the article said. Initially, the performance measures and programs will share similarities with those implemented under a state initiative that funded counties to launch services for mentally ill residents who were homeless or at risk of homelessness. Though smaller in scope, that initiative led to an apparent significant decline in the number of people being sent to prison or mental hospitals, reducing the use of costly institutional care, sources said.

A Safety Net Full of Holes; Ill Homeless Dumped on Shelters
05/06/2007 | Plain Dealer (Cleveland)

Accounting for Money Spent and Lives Changed
05/07/2007 | Scripps Howard News Service