The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors on Tuesday approved $3.7 million to fund a recovery center geared to serve homeless patients at the Martin Luther King Jr. Medical Center.
A dormitory that once housed Charles Drew University medical students will be renovated to accommodate patients who are stable and ready to be sent home, but have no place to go.
The county's healthcare system loses millions of dollars annually covering the cost of hospital stays for indigent patients, according to Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas. Medicaid covers hospital costs for a limited number of days.
On any given day, 120 to 140 patients remain hospitalized because there are no beds available at centers that offer a lower level of recovery care. About 50 percent of those patients are homeless, according to board documents.
The MLK Recuperative Care Center is expected to free up scarce beds for acute care patients, reduce emergency room wait times and reduce repeat visits by indigent patients who fall ill again because of insufficient recovery time.
"I applaud the Department of Health Services for its innovation and leadership," Ridley-Thomas said. "This project will save lives, heal bodies and save dollars."
Staff at any of the county's hospitals will be able to transfer patients from expensive hospital beds to the 108-bed enter, scheduled to open early next year. It is expected to serve between 900 and 1,400 patients annually, offering meals, security, transportation and housing support, in addition to medical care, for an average of four to six weeks.
"I want to be certain that every patient sent to recovery is connected to the services she or he needs to be stabilized, so they can hopefully find a home," Ridley-Thomas said.
—City News Service