Hospital Industry Response to L.A. City Attorney's Hospital Homeless Investigation

Nov 16, 2006, 00:00 ET from Hospital Association of Southern California

    LOS ANGELES, Nov. 16 /PRNewswire/ -- Though it is the association's
 policy not to comment on criminal investigations, "we are dismayed by the
 City Attorney's decision to use his prosecutorial authority against
 hospitals to address the problem of homelessness," said Jim Lott, Executive
 Vice President. "It seems to be a rather excessive, pernicious approach to
 solving a problem that hospitals have agreed needs to be addressed and are
 addressing," Lott continued.
     Though no statistics are kept on the numbers of homeless treated by
 hospitals, 75 hospitals with emergency rooms provide the medical safety net
 for the estimated 80,000 homeless residing in the county, including the
 almost 1,200 who congregate on the streets of Skid Row in downtown Los
 Angeles. In fact, these hospitals are required by law to receive, treat and
 stabilize any of the County's almost 3 million uninsured residents who
 present with life-threatening illnesses or injuries, and they meet this
 obligation at a collective financial loss of approximately $1.6 billion
     On behalf of hospitals serving communities throughout Los Angeles
 County, the Hospital Association of Southern California is working with
 non-profit organizations, the L.A. County Health Department and homeless
 service agencies to address the issues the City Attorney raised last
 November with regard to homeless patients being sent to Skid Row in
 downtown Los Angeles after being treated by hospitals. The association is
 very close -- less than a month left -- to completing plans that would:
     *  Allow the Volunteers of America to pick up homeless patients no longer
        needing hospital care at downtown hospitals and transport them to
        homeless service providers.
     *  Increase the number of respite beds now available in the County to
        transition homeless patients no longer needed hospital care from 40 to
     *  Establish a standardized service referral process and training program
        for all hospital workers involved in planning the post-hospital care
        for homeless patients.
     "We need our government officials help with this, not their
 vilification," Lott said. "No reasonable or thinking individual wants
 hospitals to house the homeless in a hospital bed costing $1286 per day
 when they no longer need medical care."
     The Hospital Association of Southern California is a trade association
 that represents public and private hospitals serving the communities of Los
 Angeles, Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara and Ventura

SOURCE Hospital Association of Southern California