ABSTRACT: Homelessness is associated with increased hospital costs and length of stay, and medical or surgical conditions are typically complicated by secondary diagnoses of substance abuse or mental illness. Convalescence care to provide timely treatment has not been analyzed. This is a retrospective study of diagnoses and utility of shelter-based convalescence in a cohort of homeless subjects.
A 20-bed shelter-based unit providing up to 3 months stay post hospital discharge, or for treatment of addictions or for those too ill to remain in the general shelter was studied. Charting was by the use of an electronic health record developed for the project. Demographics, reason for admission and outcomes are retrospectively described.
140 men had 181 admissions from July 2000-April 2003; 23.8% were post hospital discharge, 57.4% were from the general shelter. Average length of stay was 40 days. 83.4% were treated for a medical or surgical condition, 83.6% for psychiatric disease and 29.8% for addictions. Medication adherence was >80% in the majority. During admission, 20% obtained a new health card, 43.6% a new drug card, 89.3% received transportation to appointments, 60% applied for housing and 24.3% obtained housing.
A shelter-based convalescence unit can provide health care to homeless persons, treat medical and mental illness, ensure adherence to treatment regimes, decrease substance abuse and assist with housing.
Canadian journal of public health. Revue canadienne de santé publique 97(5):379-83. · 1.02 Impact Factor