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Despite new law, still few options for homeless patients discharged from hospitals

Posted at 11:33 PM, Apr 10, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-11 02:33:03-04

ESCONDIDO, Calif. (KGTV) - The recuperative care facility run by Interfaith Community Services in Escondido is bright and clean. On the surface, it’s hard to tell the residents inside are just starting their recovery from a low point in their lives.

“I don’t know how I would have made it this far,” said Dough Yorba about his chance encounter with Interfaith.

He lost his job around Christmas last year and soon after wound up in the hospital for extreme back pain. That’s when he got another diagnosis: cancer.

“Oh, I freaked out. Both my parents died from cancer,” he said.

Without any income, it got worse when he lost his apartment and transportation.

“I literally had no place to go.”

But as he was about to start chemotherapy, a social worker at the hospital mentioned the recuperative care facility in Escondido and he jumped at the opportunity.

“Every aspect of life is covered here. Your meals are wonderful. The staff goes out of the way to help you with so many things,” he described.

As helpful as the facility is, it only has 32 beds.

“We project there is a need for another 50-100 beds,” said Greg Anglea, CEO of Interfaith Community Services. “Maybe even more than that.”

California hospitals have seen an increase in homeless patients. According to Kaiser Health News, hospitals across the state discharged 28% more homeless patients in 2017 than they did in 2015.

In January of this year, California implemented a new law aiming to reduce the practice of “homeless dumping.” It requires hospitals to provide homeless patients vaccinations, a meal and clothing before discharging them.

Hospitals must also show that they tried to connect the patients with housing services, though patients can refuse or choose their own destination, even if it’s back to the streets.

“That’s a needed improvement,” said Anglea of the new law, but noted it still doesn’t solve the main problem of giving continued medical care to discharged homeless patients.