Los Angeles County Launches Medical Services for Homeless Program
As expected, the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority has begun providing expanded medical services at all of its winter and "wet weather shelters" as part of the Homeless Mobile Health Program, the Los Angeles Times reports (Rivera, Los Angeles Times, 1/25). Under the program, which is funded through a two-year, $600,000 grant from the California Endowment, patients will receive care from six health care providers at one of the county's 16 shelters or in medical mobile units (California Healthline, 12/01/03). The shelters, which are open Dec. 1 through March 15, provide two meals per day, a shower and a bed to about 2,000 homeless men and women. The shelters have recently added services to help connect participants with housing, jobs, education and substance abuse services, but medical care was "a largely unmet need for people often suffering from poor nutrition and for whom minor wounds, infections and even colds can develop into serious health conditions," the Times reports. Typically, each shelter will be visited once a week for three hours by a team that includes a doctor, a nurse practitioner and a medical assistant. The six health care providers participating in the project are Partners in Care Foundation, Northeast Valley Community Health, Pomona Valley Hospital, Azusa Pacific School of Nursing, Venice Family Clinic and JWCH Institute.
Dr. Robert Ross, president of the California Endowment, said that the donation to the joint city-county agency utilizes "existing providers in our health delivery system," adding, "I believe these kinds of investments are cost-effective to the health care system and to county and state taxpayers, so this is a great project." Officials for the county Homeless Services Authority said that the new program will reduce costly visits to the emergency room, as well as link patients with long-term health care services. Officials are currently collecting data from the program in hopes of finding a permanent source of funding, the Times reports (Los Angeles Times, 1/25).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.