Providence Tarzana Medical Center leads partnership providing resources to homeless patients in the San Fernando Valley

Providence Health & Services is addressing two critical and often intertwined issues in the San Fernando Valley that regularly surface in its emergency departments – the growing number of homeless and those in need of behavioral health services.

Providence is funding a partnership with Tarzana Treatment Centers to place advocates in the emergency departments at Providence Tarzana Medical Center, Providence Holy Cross in Missions Hills and Providence Saint Joseph in Burbank. Started last month, 11 patients already have been referred to the treatment center.

The initiative was developed Dale Surowitz, Providence Tarzana’s chief executive, at the urging of Los Angeles Councilman Bob Blumenfield, who asked hospital leaders to determine how they could help provide additional resources for the community’s homeless.

“Providence Tarzana and our sister hospitals here in the Valley are committed to caring for the poor and vulnerable, and because of our long-term relationship with Tarzana Treatment Centers we know this new partnership is a significant step forward,” Surowitz said. “I’d especially like to thank Councilman Blumenfield and his staff for their support. These very complex issues can only be solved through teamwork and cooperation.”

The advocates link patients to temporary housing, addiction treatment and other resources. To qualify for care at the treatment center, patients would be required to agree to participate in drug treatment. If they decline, they would be referred to other services in the Valley.

“I’m thrilled about this innovative partnership,” Blumenfield said. “If we can offer transitional housing and treatment to mentally ill and drug addicted people -- those who are often most resistant to services -- when they hit rock bottom and are in the ER, our chances of success are much greater."

The program was made possible by a $600,000 grant from Well Being Trust, an independent not-for-profit organization founded by the Providence St. Joseph Health to address mental health issues and to help erase the stigma of mental illness and substance misuse. Well Being Trust works with partners nationwide.

Providence St. Joseph Health, with 51 hospitals across seven states, is a leading advocate for mental wellness. Individual hospitals have created partnerships across our communities to help seek solutions to the causes of homelessness and to link those who are homeless to resources.

“Innovative partnerships such as this one between Providence and Tarzana Treatment Centers, Inc., are critical to meeting the medical and behavioral health care needs of our homeless patients in the San Fernando Valley,” said Albert Senella, president and chief executive of Tarzana Treatment Centers. “Collaboration and care coordination between entities like ours is a must in order to deliver excellent patient care to some of our community’s most vulnerable patients.”

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