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Homeless patients to get extra attention at 3 Providence hospitals in San Fernando Valley
Daily News - 12/27/2018
Dec. 26--Providence Hospital group has launched a new program to put "patient navigators" at three of its hospitals in the San Fernando Valley to help screen and enroll homeless individuals who experience substance abuse and mental health issues into Tarzana Treatment Centers.
As part of the program, two homes were rented or leased in the Woodland Hills area, to house people who are enrolled in the Treatment Centers program. The navigators will be housed at the hospitals for about 18 months.
Tarzana Treatment Centers is a behavioral healthcare provider that offers drug-addiction and mental health related treatment. They have locations throughout the Los Angeles area, including several in the Northridge, Woodland Hills, Tarzana and Reseda neighborhoods of the San Fernando Valley.
Navigators were initially assigned at two of the hospitals, Providence Tarzana Medical Center and Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, during November, and a third is just getting started at Providence Holy Cross in Missions Hills.
Los Angeles City Councilman Bob Blumenfield had asked the Providence hospital group to come up with a way to ameliorate the homelessness issues in his West San Fernando Valley district, especially by targeting homeless people experiencing mental health and substance abuse issues.
Blumenfield asked that this could be a community benefit that hospital officials could offer in return for the many land use changes they were requesting from the city as part of a expansion project for the Providence Tarzana Medical Center, at 18321 Clark St.
"What I've been struggling with is we have all these programs for homelessness, but we don't have much for getting folks off the street who are drug-addicted," Blumenfield said. "We don't have a lot of resource as a city ... yet I get a lot of understandable complaints in my district about the impact, particularly of quality-of-life issues related to homelessness when you have drug addicted people in the street, when you have mentally ill people screaming in the street."
"How do you help them?" he said. "A lot of times these are people who do not want help."
Dale Surowitz, the CEO of Providence Tarzana Medical Center, said the solution they eventually came up with was the patient navigator program, which will be funded with a $600,000 grant.
Surowitz said there can be more success in enrolling homeless individuals while they are at hospitals, when they may be "more ... willing to participate" in treatment programs.
Hospital officials said the grant also funds housing, so that homeless patients have the stability they need to stay with the treatment programs.
Under the program, navigators from the behavioral healthcare provider Tarzana Treatment Centers, which are independent of the Providence hospitals, will be working at each of the three hospitals.
The navigators will be able to work closely with the homeless individuals to help resolve any obstacles that might prevent them from taking part in treatment, such as transportation, according to Jose Salazar, director of program development at Tarzana Treatment Centers.
"The more we can hold their hand and provide the additional support they might need, the greater likelihood they will make it to the treatment," Salazar said.
Salazar noted that while homelessness has become more pronounced and visible in recent years, Tarzana Treatment Centers has addressed the needs of homeless individuals dating back from when they started in 1972.
"We came about as the result of the deinstitutionalization of people from mental health institutions," he said. "Some of those folks coming back to the community have a family and loved ones to come back to, but in some instances they didn't, and the community wasn't ready for them."
Hospital officials say the patient navigator program has already produced some results. During November, 34 patients were screened by navigators at St. Joseph and Tarzana hospitals, and of those, four were connected to substance use disorder services, five to mental health-related services and 12 to housing services. And one patient was placed in emergency or transition housing.
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