Noteworthy News

Homelessness and Safety-Net Hospitals

Homeless people with serious medical problems are more likely than others to be readmitted to hospitals – and especially, to safety-net hospitals – during their convalescence from illnesses and injuries.

This is one of the conclusions in the recently published Journal of Community Health Nursing article “Assessing the Needs for a Medical Respite:  Perceptions of Service Providers and Homeless Persons.”

According the study, homeless people lack safe places to convalesce.  Shelters do not suffice, the study found, because they are not open around the clock and lack staff qualified to support recovery.  The homeless also report that their drugs are often stolen in shelters and they are vulnerable to infections while staying in them.

iStock_000001497717XSmallAs a result, many of these patients end up being readmitted to the safety-net hospitals that originally treated them – often, for extended periods of time.  Among others, this poses a real challenge for the country’s private, non-profit urban safety-net hospitals because they serve so many more homeless patients than the typical hospital.

In more than 70 cities, respite care facilities have been established to serve the homeless recovering from serious injuries and illnesses.

Learn more about the challenges facing homeless patients and the role safety-net hospitals play in addressing those challenges in this Dallas Morning News story and find the Journal of Community Health Nursing article here.

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