Homeless COVID-19 patients put strain on San Francisco hospitals

COVID-19 is rapidly sickening San Francisco's homeless population, posing numerous care obstacles for hospitals and physicians, reports STAT.

The city's largest homeless shelter confirmed 68 infections among homeless individuals in just over a week. In response, many shelters have stopped admitting new residents to help prevent the virus' spread, which has limited the amount of beds available for this population. 

Homeless patients who have COVID-19 or are being tested for the virus must remain in isolation until their results come back. Oftentimes, the only place for these patients to safely isolate is a hospital, even if they have mild symptoms. This puts a strain on resources, as hospitals are forced to use up beds and personal protective equipment on patients who typically would not require hospitalization. 

San Francisco has tapped several local hotels to house homeless COVID-19 patients during the pandemic, but clinicians told STAT the rollout process has been slow and many patients with mental health issues are not eligible to stay in the hotels.

As a result, many physicians must try to convince homeless patients with minor symptoms to stay in the hospital to prevent COVID-19's spread. 

The San Francisco Human Services Agency did not respond to STAT's request for comment.

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