Healthcare for homeless stretching San Francisco resources thin: study

The same small group of San Francisco, Calif.-residents — most of them homeless — frequently cycle through the city's hospitals and criminal justice system. The cost is high and the health outcomes are poor, according to a recent study reported Sept. 27 by the San Francisco Chronicle.  

The California Policy Lab and the University of California San Francisco's homelessness and housing initiative analyzed data from 270,000 people who used the city's medical or legal systems from 2011 to 2020. 

The researchers found that 1 in 4 people who frequented both the medical and legal systems in 2011 had died by 2020. Between 80 percent and 90 percent of these individuals struggled with substance abuse or chronic mental or physical illness, according to the newspaper. 

Additionally, five people used at least 1,781 ambulance transports in the past five years, costing $4 million. 

"Our research highlights the need for coordinated, evidence-based interventions to address these individuals' complex needs, promote stable housing, and prevent poor health outcomes including untimely death," Maria Raven, MD, chief of emergency medicine at UCSF Medical Center, told the newspaper.

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