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Beginning September 1, a new agreement between Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital (SNMH) and the county of Nevada creates a path for homeless county residents to recuperate following medical discharge from the hospital. Under this agreement, up to $263,334 is being awarded to the Nevada County Health and Human Services Agency (HHSA) from SNMH, a California nonprofit public benefit corporation. Funds received will be used over the next three years to support HHSA’s medical respite services program supporting the needs of eligible homeless patients upon discharge from SNMH. The county is partnering with Hospitality House to provide this recuperative care program.
“Dignity Health Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital is proud to partner with the county of Nevada and Hospitality House to provide homeless patients a safe place to rest and recuperate after hospital discharge,” said Katherine Medeiros, president, Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital. “Dignity Health is committed to helping the homeless as part of our mission in the communities we serve.”
Individuals experiencing homelessness typically demonstrate higher rates of behavioral health disorders, chronic illness and acute injuries. As a result, such individuals commonly experience frequent hospitalizations and emergency department (“ED”) visits. This is particularly apparent in Western Nevada County, where SNMH serves as the only hospital and ED. Valuable hospital resources are spent treating people experiencing homelessness who are discharged back to the street with a doctor’s recommendations to recover and recuperate once their immediate medical conditions have improved.
Lacking basic shelter to recover from their illnesses, homeless patients frequently find themselves quickly returning to the hospital due to inadequate recovery and rest, unstable or unsanitary living situations, and inability to access primary follow-up care. To alleviate pressure on hospital systems related to these patients, medical respite programs have been growing more popular across the nation, providing savings for local hospitals and improved outcomes and quality of life for patients experiencing homelessness.
SNMH and the Nevada County HHSA have agreed to partner to provide medical respite services through a post-hospitalization outpatient program to eligible homeless individuals released from care by SNMH. The recuperative program will provide for the equivalent of 120 days’ worth of services referred by SNMH per month. In the event SNMH does not use the 4-bed (120 day) minimum, the medical respite team at Hospitality House will coordinate with SNMH to review the possibility of releasing open beds to meet the needs of other patients identified by their staff as medically fragile. At the conclusion of medical respite, patients will be promptly transitioned into available community programs or placed with appropriate family members or other support persons depending upon each patient’s individual situation and need, and as available and determined by program staff.