|SACRAMENTO – Today, Governor Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (SB) 1152, a bill authored by Senator Hernandez and sponsored by CPEHN and SEIU State Council, that will prevent hospitals from “dumping” homeless patients unsafely and without services.
“Homelessness poses serious challenges for the health of our communities and hospitals have a tremendous responsibility to work towards a solution,” said Kimberly Chen, State Policy Director for the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network. “SB 1152 takes a clear, thoughtful step toward making sure all homeless patients are discharged with dignity, have the opportunity to heal, and are connected with support and services. We are proud to see this bill become law.”
SB 1152 responds to recent stories documenting homeless patients being discharged in unsafe conditions, such as being dropped off at homeless shelters without warning and without available beds. It will require every hospital to include, as part of its hospital discharge policy, a written homeless patient discharge planning policy and process. As part of this policy, hospitals will be required to discharge a homeless patient to a safe and appropriate location.
“California took a positive step forward today to help homeless individuals get back on their feet and be treated with the dignity they deserve. This law will help improve the resources we provide homeless Californians on a statewide level, said Senator Hernandez. “Community organizations, homeless services agencies and hospitals will now work more closely together to ensure our homeless individuals aren’t discharged under unsafe conditions. Thank you to the Governor for understanding the merits behind this bill and the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network and SEIU California for championing this cause.”
“To address the complex challenge of homelessness, we must all do our part,” said Latoya Comer Frolov, MD, MPH; Chief Resident of Clinical Programs, PGY-4; UCSF Department of Psychiatry (CIR/SEIU). “SEIU members are proud to have advanced SB 1152, which requires hospitals to appropriately plan for discharge of homeless people by establishing minimum standards. As healthcare workers and county employees, we are aware of the impact of homelessness on the ability to heal from acute and chronic illness. Observing the cycling of homeless people through emergency departments and back onto our streets is costly and feels inhumane. With the leadership of Sen. Hernandez and with Governor Brown’s signature, we’ve taken a step toward the larger solutions needed to ensure everyone has a right to health.”The bill will require hospitals, as part of the homeless patient discharge planning policy, to develop a written plan for coordinating services and referrals for homeless patients with the county behavioral health agency, health care and social services agencies in the region, health care providers, and nonprofit social services providers to assist with ensuring appropriate homeless patient discharge.
SB 1152 will also require the hospital to ensure that certain conditions are met as part of the discharge process of a homeless patient, including the following:
- The patient has been offered a meal;
- The patient has been offered weather-appropriate attire;
- The patient has been provided with necessary medication, if the hospital has a retail pharmacy;
- The patient has been offered appropriate vaccinations and screening for infectious diseases; and,
- The hospital has offered the patient transportation to the discharge destination.
For more information about CPEHN supported legislation, visit our Policy Center.