She dreamed of leaving the East Coast for California and finally in her 40s she made the move. And then an injury resulted in her job loss and the dream quickly became the nightmare of homelessness. She was hospitalized at Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Center when she met Jessica Bailey, regional hospital liaison working for five partnering hospitals in the South Bay to address her needs and to seek resources for homeless patients. Bailey helped her apply to Social Security for Supplemental Security Income.
“Now she’s living in her own apartment, and she’s happy as can be,” Bailey said. “Once she got over the fear of being judged because she was homeless, all this hope came.”
In 2016, Providence Little Company of Mary Medical Centers in San Pedro and Torrance partnered with competing hospitals across the South Bay to coordinate care for patients who are homeless. They had found those in the community with no permanent home often visited emergency departments at several local hospitals. This team sought to create comprehensive health records for these patients and to enhance care and coordinate referrals to resources.
Hospital community benefit teams from across the South Bay first met informally. Realizing they were working in silos, they expanded to include hospital social workers who began networking with one another in search of solutions to common issues. Soon the group formalized as a hospital subcommittee of the South Bay Coalition to End Homelessness and secured a one-year grant to hire a hospital liaison position to work at Harbor Interfaith Services, which advocates for those who are homeless. Since then, the five hospitals in the region agreed to pitch in continued funding for the position.
Bailey meets with social workers at the hospitals to help facilitate client care and to explain changes in various services and funding for those who are homeless.
The model was so successful that in 2019 the Los Angeles Homeless Service Authority learned about it and is seeking to scale the model countywide in 2020. That expansion would include partnerships with Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank and Providence Holy Cross Medical Center, Mission Hills. The LAHSA estimates 60,000 homeless in Los Angeles County in 2019, 44,000 of whom sleep on the streets. The numbers continue to rise and include among them those suffering mental illness, addiction and physical disabilities.
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