Funding secured for a drug addiction and mental health treatment program at Tarzana Medical Center

August 24, 2020 Providence News Team

In August, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously approved $450,000 to  help continue and grow an innovative drug treatment program created last year by Councilmember  Blumenfield, Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center and Tarzana Treatment Center (TTC).

In response to the growing number of ER cases involving homeless people struggling with  drug addiction, Blumenfield developed the Homeless Housing and Recovery Project (HHRP) with  leaders from Providence and TTC so instead of simply treating overdoses and discharging patients,  further intervention and treatment are offered. 

“Addiction recovery is hard enough for people with housing and means but it’s an unfathomably  difficult path for unhoused residents,” said Blumenfield. “The HHRP offers a realistic opportunity to  truly help our city’s most vulnerable, providing a substantive chance turn their lives around.” 

The HHRP functions by deploying Patient Navigators on site at hospital emergency rooms to enroll  recently admitted unhoused people with drug issues into the program. Services offered include  being assigned a general practitioner, connection to TTC medical clinics where they continue to  receive care after hospital discharge, and in some cases temporary housing through a shared  housing model. Since the start of this program, it has also expanded to Providence Holy Cross  Medical Center in Mission Hills. 
The program reaches unsheltered people in the hospital ER which has proven to be an opportune  time to offer services. They are more receptive, perhaps because they have hit a rock bottom or  because the medical setting is more conducive to acceptance of help than an outreach effort on  the street. The partnership of the medical professionals and streamlined access to a substance  abuse program seems to give unsheltered people with substance abuse or mental health disorders  a better chance to turn their lives around.
In order to continue and expand this successful program, additional funding was needed before the  end of August, as the leases for the housing units are set to expire in September. The total cost of  the program is $950,000. Providence and TTC are providing $500,000 in funding and services, but  these additional funds were needed. Among other services, this funding will help add an additional  house to TTC’s treatment long-term capacity so they will have three homes with almost twenty  beds available.

“We thank Council Member Blumenfield for his continuing support of this vital program that  addresses two critical and often intertwined crises – homelessness and addiction,” said Dale  Surowitz, chief executive, Providence Cedars-Sinai Tarzana Medical Center. “Our navigators at  both hospitals have been successful in linking these patients to temporary housing, addiction  treatment and other resources.” 

According to Providence and TCC, during the first 14 months of the program, 697 patients were  screened for admission, of which: 

363 enrolled in the program
168 have been connected to mental health services
40 started outpatient substance use disorder treatment
191 connected with emergency housing
72 are no longer homeless and are living on their own or with family
Blumenfield stated, “Not everyone is going to accept the help or stick with the program but we  have already proven that this program is more successful than most traditional services. It’s our  hope that other cities and hospitals pay attention to the success of this program because the lack  of drug addiction and mental health services is far too prevalent in practically every corner of the  country.” 

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