Our ERs have transformed into the epicenter of care for the overlapping crises of homelessness, substance use disorder, and mental health conditions. There are short-term actions we can take now, while we wait for long-term housing and treatment solutions to come online, to triage the crisis of unhoused individuals perpetually cycling through our emergency response system and ERs.
“While EDs are acting as a social safety net for unhoused residents, they are not the appropriate place to address housing or shelter needs nor the best places to serve unhoused patients with mental health and/or substance use disorder issues. Our emergency rooms across the state are already crowded, provide the most expensive health care, and are facing workforce shortages due to safety issues and burnout and, like all of health care, are facing workforce shortages. To address this complex issue, we believe that we need the right people to respond to these crises, the right place for short-term stabilization, and long-term treatment and housing solutions. We are in crisis today with lives at stake crying out for action now.”