'Patient dumping': Changes needed to help Philly's most vulnerable population | Opinion


A recent viral video shed light on the horrific treatment of a female hospital patient in Baltimore who was put out on the street during a cold winter’s night in only a thin robe and socks.


This scenario has become all too familiar, especially for those of us serving individuals experiencing homelessness.  A patient unable to care for herself or himself is “dumped” in the street or at a homeless shelter, which not only puts the patient’s health at risk but also creates a difficult situation for both the patient and those of us working in the city’s network of emergency housing providers — shelters.


According to the Department of Housing and Urban Development, people living in shelters are more than twice as likely to have a disability compared with the general population. On any given night in 2017, 20 percent of the homeless population had serious mental illness, 16 percent had conditions related to chronic substance abuse, and more than 10,000 had HIV/AIDS. More and more, individuals experiencing homelessness are not only dealing with the much-talked-about opioid crisis gripping many of our communities, but homeless individuals are increasingly suffering from chronic diseases such as HIV/AIDS, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, spinal conditions, and a host of behavioral-health-related issues.





Shelters, hospitals 'playing ping pong' with Philadelphia's homeless, sick population

On the afternoon of June 12, an ambulance sent by Temple University Hospital’s Episcopal Campus pulled up to Station House, a shelter for homeless men, with the kind of passenger Michael Hinson has come to dread.


Hinson noticed a disturbing pattern soon after he became president of SELF Inc., the organization that runs Station House and six other shelters, a year ago.  Some hospitals seemed to be trying to circumvent city rules by sending Station House weak and sick patients after 4 p.m., when a City of Philadelphia office that decides if people are well enough for shelters closes for the day. By ambulance, cab, and Uber, people would go from hospitals to Station House, which provides nighttime shelter intake for single men.


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