Hospitals and Homelessness…

Today’s post is part of the annual A-to-Z Blogging Challenge. For more information on the challenge and its creator visit:

a-z 2015 h

My theme this year is An Intimate Look at the Homeless and Mental Health Epidemic in America which just happens to be the subtitle of my next book, The Stranger in My Recliner. The book is the true story of Sophie.  She was the eighty-year-old homeless woman that my husband brought home one night. She lived with us for nearly three –years. The book will be out this fall.

Hospitals and Homelessness

Angelo Solis was a homeless man in his 60’s. He was also an alcoholic. When he would pass out in public the police and an ambulance would be called. They would take him to the hospital emergency room. Doctors would admit him, treat his chronic health problems, detox him and then release him. He would get drunk, pass out and the police would repeat the process. Because he slept outside his diabetes and heart condition could never be properly treated. Over a three-year period the medical bills alone totaled more than a million dollars and were paid for by the taxpayers.


Angelo was only one case. San Francisco allocates thirty-million dollars of its one trillion dollar Health Department budget to cases like this.

Just imagine how many apartments could be rented, social worker salaries and mental health services could be bought with a thirty-million dollar a year budget. Imagine if done all over the country.

I imagine it could end homelessness.

A mother and her one-year-old son spent their nights shuttling between a hospital emergency room and Transit Station after a friend kicked them out. Another woman, eight months pregnant, huddled overnight on a beach with her 3-year-old. Neither of the women could get into a shelter because they couldn’t prove sleeping outside caused a health risk to them.

I’m thinking the children could wonder off and be hit by a car while the mother’s slept or be abducted. The women were at risk of being sexually assaulted. (One actually was sexually assaulted in a shelter.)

Hospital emergency rooms all over America are being overused and overwhelmed with homeless, mentally ill and addicted patients. The police, first responders and family members are using ER’s as default landing zones for those in crisis. Our first responders are good people and they want to help. We need to provide them with realistic and safe solutions. Either these emergency rooms need to be equipped, trained and staffed to be a viable solution to this epidemic or we must demand their revolving doors be closed.

Emergency room door


I’m one of Lisa’s Live Wires! Lisa is a challenge co-host Lisa Buie-Collard.

A-Z 2015 Minion Badge

I am excited to be working with this bunch of fabulous bloggers …

Rhonda Albom –   Bob R. Milne –   Tamera Narayan –  Stephanie Faris –   Heather McCubbin –   Randi Lee















23 Responses to “Hospitals and Homelessness…”

  • About 3/4th through reading your posts. Hope to get back to more tomorrow.

    Yes the medical care is huge, and alternatives are needed. It’s hard to eat right and take meds correctly when you’re roaming the streets.

  • Doreen, how ironic that millions of dollars are allocated to services for the homeless yet few go to provide housing. Hopefully, through your writing, widespread knowledge will become the norm.

  • This is so very, very common in my neighborhood. People drinking, or doing drugs and most of them self-medicating. They end up in the E. R. and as you described, Doreen, they are detoxed and sent back out on the streets the next day, or the next several days. The Medicaid/Medicare system in Florida is rather ridiculous in itself. Although I received my full SSDI at age 55, I had to wait two years for Medicare to kick in. I was on something called “Share of Cost” which meant that I had to have medical bills at least equal to 960.00 PER MONTH, which was 200.00 less than my check, BEFORE Medicaid would pay dime one. As I was just starting to present with overt symptoms of essential tremor, I couldn’t go to a regular doctor, as I couldn’t afford the testing to find out what I had. I was able to scrimp together enough to see my psychiatrist every 2 months, and I found a doctor out of the hospital I had been in who worked with me and took care of my basic needs. It didn’t always work; I ended up in the psych ward for six weeks when I had a psychotic break and “lost time” and prior, I had a problem with my blood that nearly killed me, but I couldn’t afford to just go and find out that I only had 2% hemoglobin in my blood.

    I refused to “game” the system, as so many here do, because of the way Medicare works: I was NOT going to call 911 with some kind of “chest pains” or something that would cause the hospital to run a bunch of tests just to get over that 960.00 mark. Many do, but sometimes, what option do they have? This is another aspect of the system that is ridiculous and broken. It’s not just the “revolving door” aspect; it’s the “wait until you’re at death’s door” as I used to do, which racks up higher bills, or the poor folks who have something wrong, but still need to pay the rent, electricity, buy food, and live. It’s hard to do, when the “share cost” is always 200.00 less than whatever your SSDI check is for the month!

    Great post, Doreen and thank you for letting me weigh in! Mary

  • Very cool project going on with Scripps Health Systems in San Diego. The Foundation did a huge cost analysis study and the final recommendation, one that will save millions a year, is to create community based homeless clinics. I will find and send you some links! Hasn’t happened yet but moving in the right direction asking the right questions!

  • It is just unbelievable when you consider the wealth this nation has….and how corporations just cannot be bothered to pay their fair share, or give their employees better benefits.

  • When did we as a culture become so short-sighted that we cannot compare short-term versus long-term costs, just from an economic perspective. The humanitarian perspective, well, how can we turn our back? But as a society, we do.

  • this heartbreaking situation is why we support homeless shelters and services in our area.

  • sad:( But we live in this world, and I’m thinking if we are different, acting with compassion, even on a very small scale, there is always hope.
    Children suffering is the worst though 🙁 Totally not their fault 🙁

  • You are amazing, Doreen, and this problem will not go away on its own. We have to speak up and spread awareness about this human issue of taking care of the homeless who are our own.

    Oh, those poor children. It’s heartbreaking. Is there enough being done to address this issue of homelessness? I highly doubt it. I am so glad you addressed this, my friend.

  • The dangers you describe, especially for women and children, are a health risk! Wow. The world seems so heartless.
    Play off the Page

  • Anne:

    Thanks for another educational and enlightening post. It’s so true that many times we are reactionary rather than really dealing with long-term issues in ways which would be better for everyone. Good stuff to keep in mind and maybe one day soon we’ll be smarter.

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