“Hospital to Housing” – cut cost and transforms lives
When it comes to the homeless it is not even close. Health care and hospital costs! So it makes sense to find ways to focus on curbing the costs of health care for the homeless. But can costs be cut and lives transformed?
Hospital to Housing Program
According to No more streets, no more hospitals, just home sweet home: Hospital to Housing Program transforms lives – Catholic Charities USA, St. Patrick Center in St. Louis has done just that. They point out that studies have shown that one person who is chronically homeless, moving from hospitals and emergency rooms to jails and courts, can accumulate one million dollars in expenses annually.
Counter that with statistics that show it costs about $12,500 per year to permanently house a formerly chronically homeless person and provide needed support services and case management. These statistics prompted St. Patrick Center in St. Louis, Missouri, to act.
In August 2018, St. Patrick Center approached Barnes Jewish Hospital, BJC Healthcare, Foundation for Barnes Jewish Hospital and Behavioral Health Network of Greater St. Louis with an opportunity to create the Hospital to Housing pilot program.
The results have been nothing short of exciting. After one year, BJC Healthcare estimated the cost of care for the enrolled clients was reduced to $230,000, representing an estimated annual savings of nearly $400,000 or 71%. No doubt the financial people were quite pleased.
During the pilot year, they learned that the longer clients stay in housing, the fewer—if any—times they return to the hospital.
For hospital admissions, Barnes Jewish Hospital reported about seven admissions per month before clients in the program were placed into housing and provided critical case management and support services.
After housing placements, Barnes Jewish Hospital admissions declined by 50% to about four per month. For all BJC Healthcare hospitals, admissions decreased by 54%. (Reporting period Jan. 2019-April 2020)
For emergency department admissions, Barnes Jewish Hospital reported clients in the program visited the ED about 38 times before housing. Visits declined by 62% to about 15 times after housing. For all BJC Healthcare hospitals, ED admissions decreased by 66%. (Reporting period May 2019-Oct. 2019)
For inpatient admissions, Barnes Jewish Hospital reported clients in the program spent about 14 days in the hospital before housing. Hospital stays declined by 61% to about five days after housing. For all BJC Healthcare hospitals, inpatient admissions decreased by 63%. (Reporting period May 2019-Oct. 2019)
Of course the true measure of success for the Hospital to Housing program are the clients, like Vondell.
Vondell’s biggest struggles occurred when his mother passed away. “I hit rock bottom and lost it all – marriage, daughter, job, home.” Homeless, he went to St. Patrick Center for food and clothing, and participated in programs. Vondell also dealt with mental illness and lack of medication. “Some days I didn’t want to live. I tried to kill myself multiple times.” He would seek safety at the hospital and spend time in the psychiatric ward until he felt better after being re-medicated. Vondell joined the Hospital to Housing program and was soon placed into housing. Today, he is enjoying his home life and continues to meet with case managers. His daughter, now 16, recently visited him.
Read Vondell’s story and other stories here.