At just under a staggering 70 percent, the state of California has the highest percentage of unsheltered homeless individuals in the country and is home to 29 percent of the entire nation’s homeless veterans, as well as 58 percent of the nation’s homeless youth.
As this problem continues to get worse, so does the need for assistance, which is exactly what legislators are trying to achieve with Senate Bill 1152. The law, which California Governor, Jerry Brown, signed on September 30th of 2018, amends the licensing provisions at Health & Safety Code section 1262.5 with new requirements that will roll out in two parts:
Effective January 1, 2019, a hospital (including acute care, psychiatric and special hospitals) must create a discharge planning policy specific to the issues presented by homeless patients (including the provision of certain services), as detailed with the requirements below.
- Determine each patient’s housing status
- Connect homeless patients with available community resources, treatment, shelter and other supportive services
- Inform homeless patients about available housing options and identify a post-discharge destination for the homeless patient with priority given to identifying a sheltered destination with supportive services
- Document that the treating physician for a homeless patient has determined that the patient is clinically stable, alert and oriented
- Offer a meal (unless contraindicated), weather-appropriate clothing if needed and an appropriate supply of medication if needed
- Offer or refer a screening for infectious diseases
- Offer vaccinations appropriate to the homeless patient’s presenting medical condition
- Document that the treating physician for a homeless patient has provided a medical screening examination and evaluation
- Make a good faith effort to contact:
- Homeless patient’s health plan, if applicable
- Homeless patient’s primary care provider, if the patient has one
- Another appropriate provider, including the coordinated entry system
- Assist with enrollment in affordable health insurance coverage
- Offer transportation to the housing option identified for the patient
In addition to the requirements above, this new law places further duties on hospitals discharging homeless patients that go into effect July 1, 2019. Among these requirements is an emphasis on helping the patient make arrangements for post-discharge care, including identifying and connecting the homeless patient with a family caregiver. The hospital must also provide any needed counseling to the patient and their caregiver and for any patient that likely needs long-term care, the hospital must provide contact information for at least one public or nonprofit organization that provides referral for community-based long-term care. Each hospital must then maintain a log of homeless patients discharged and their destinations, and must document either in the log, or the patient’s medical record, that the discharge protocol was followed.
New requirements and regulations aside, there is one lingering problem facing hospitals across the state – and it is a lack of resources. From transportation to desired locations up to 30 minutes away to hours spent on additional screenings, treatments, insurance enrollment assistance and documentations for future care, the amount of coordination is proving to be a serious challenge, especially as it potentially affects wait times for patients and even the length of time that patients are held. What’s more, is the addition of another meal at the time of discharge. With health and homelessness being increasingly, and inextricably linked, it’s more important than ever to provide one that is nutritionally beneficial.
As the demand for healthy, pre-packaged meals continues to increase with the rollout of this new law, our SunMeadow® frozen or shelf-stables meals may be helpful for your discharge program. For more information on how we can help you save time, money and additional resources, please contact us.