Dignity Health, in partnership with Sutter Health, Kaiser and UC Davis Medical Center (UCDMC), has funded the Interim Care Program (ICP) since its inception in 2005. The program was established by WellSpace Health (formerly known as The Effort) and the Salvation Army, to provide temporary respite and recovery for homeless patients who are healthy enough to be discharged from a hospital, but have no housing alternative, family or other means of support.
The program provides patients with a clean and safe environment for approximately four to six weeks depending on their needs. Patients are housed in a special 18-bed unit which is located at the Volunteers of America (VOA) facility near downtown Sacramento. Patient referrals, by the four hospital systems, are taken on a first-come first-served basis.
To date, nearly 15,000 homeless patients have participated in the program by all regional hospital systems. The average length of stay for patients in the program is approximately 19 days. Referrals and bed utilization by hospital vary, but on average, out of all the patients referred to the program:
- 25% are from Dignity Health hospitals
- 25% are from Sutter Health
- 43% are from UCDMC
- 5% are from Kaiser
- 1% were referred from outside sources
Patients must be self-sufficient and stable on medications in order to be eligible to participate in the program. ICP provides some patient care assistance. A high degree of case management and social service support is provided to help patients enroll in health insurance, find a medical home, receive substance abuse treatment, mental health counseling, and placement in permanent housing.
Outcomes indicate the ICP model works effectively to prevent readmission's to the hospital and improve health and quality of life for patients. In 2016, 64 patients were enrolled in ICP after discharge from a Dignity Health Hospital. Recidivism to the emergency department reflected an overall decrease by 42%.