Denver Health to offer transitional housing for homeless patients

Denver Health is repurposing an old building into apartments for homeless patients transitioning out of the hospital, according to USA Today

Hospitals can't discharge patients who don't have anywhere to go, meaning homeless patients can occupy hospital beds longer than medically necessary. In 2019 alone, Denver Health has treated more than 100 long-term patients, all of whom did not require a long hospital stay. One patient stayed at the hospital for a record-breaking 1,558 days, or more than four years. Meanwhile, patients requiring medical attention can wait days in the emergency room for a bed to open up.

It costs Denver Health $2,700 each night a patient stays in the hospital. Long-term patients stay an average of 73 days, which equates to nearly $200,000 per stay. Denver Health estimates it would only cost about $10,000 to house a patient elsewhere for an entire year.  

These high costs have driven Denver Health, in partnership with the Denver Housing Authority, to repurpose an old building on the hospital campus into affordable senior housing and 15 transitional apartments for homeless patients. The housing authority will hire a coordinator to help tenants find permanent housing, and Denver Health will deploy a case manager to help patients with physical and behavioral health needs. The health system said it expects most patients to move on from the transitional housing units within 90 days.The project is set to be finished in late 2021.

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