Questions Linger About L.A. County Services for Homeless
The Los Angeles city attorney's recent settlement with College Hospital over allegations of improperly discharging homeless patients with mental illnesses underscores lingering concerns about the adequacy of Los Angeles County's safety net, the Los Angeles Times reports.
Since the Times began covering the issue in 2005, officials have reached settlements with four hospitals that yielded millions of dollars in payments.Â
However, plans to create five regional centers to provide services for homeless people have not been realized.Â The proposal was aimed at distributing the concentration of homeless services away from Skid Row in downtown Los Angeles.
State law requires hospitals to provide discharge planning services, but the process can be particularly complicated for homeless patients with mental illnesses because there are fewer than 100 beds in shelters in Los Angeles County reserved for homeless people with chronic psychiatric problems.
Moreover, Fran Hutchins, a policy and planning analyst at the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, said the bigger problem is that the county does not have an adequate supply of permanent, supportive housing for homeless people with mental illnesses (DiMassa/Winton, Los Angeles Times, 4/10).
"It's unreasonable to expect hospitals to manage the long-term care of the mentally ill patients who land in their emergency rooms," a Times editorial states, noting that Wednesday's settlement with College Hospital aims "to provide a 'continuum of care' by plugging hospitals into a well-coordinated network of state mental health services, supportive housing facilities and other sources of outpatient care."
The Times concludes, "Such a system is overdue for hospitals and patients alike" (Los Angeles Times, 4/10).
Broadcast CoverageOn Wednesday, KPCC's "KPCC News" reported on the settlement.Â The segment includes comments from Los Angeles City Attorney Rocky Delgadillo and Union Rescue Mission President Andy Bales (Watt, "KPCC News," KPCC, 4/8). 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.