Samuel* was ready to leave Providence Mission Hospital, following surgery. But, as one of many people experiencing homelessness in Southern California, he had no place to go.
A mental health counselor at the Mission Viejo hospital helped navigate his care, referring Samuel to Family Assistance Ministries (FAM). FAM helps provide temporary shelter, access to food and help in obtaining identification and enrollment in Medi-Cal and other services.
The counselor coordinated follow-up and insurance coverage to ensure Samuel received ongoing care. He now has permanent housing, is self-sufficient and has reconnected with his family.
Tens of thousands of people experiencing homelessness live in Southern California. Hospital ERs often are their source for health care and where they make connections to other critical services.
At Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers in Torrance and San Pedro, those with no permanent shelter or place to call home are referred to navigators who visit patients at the bedside, assess their needs and team up with community partners to find housing.
“The navigators determine needs during their initial contact and they connect them to temporary housing,” said Juan Mendez, community health investment manager. “If mental health is an issue, we guide them,” he said.
Noting the impact and success of these programs, Providence St. Mary Medical Center in the High Desert plans to begin an ER navigator program in 2023 to guide those experiencing homelessness in the communities it serves.
*To protect patient identity, names were changed for the purposes of this story.