Under the category of "Sad, but Sensible," San Francisco hospitals, frustrated with chronic homeless alcoholics who sleep it off in emergency room beds, will donate $400,000 so the city can create a safe place for drunks to sober up, hospital and city officials announced Thursday.
The one-year pilot program is the result of a study by a City Hall task force that found that the number of hours that overcrowded emergency rooms must divert ambulances to other hospitals has grown tenfold in five years.
Why aren't these people inhabitating a county jail somewhere?
Full story's here.
Feb 7, '03
3rd shift writes: "Why would you think they need to be in jail?"
Very simple. There are laws in San Francisco about public intoxication and against drinking in public.
and: "jail isn't the answer either."
I don't see any of the "caring" churches, non-profit agencies, etc. offering to take care of these people while they sleep it off. If you have a better way, I hope you will propose it to a local non-profit (or whatever road you decide to take) and set up a program in your own area, where the same problem no doubt exists.
emily writes: " Alcohol does not make you a criminal.. I think it's wonderful that at least SOMEONE cares about them.... "
Alcohol does not make you a criminal, no, but your BEHAVIOR might, and does in these cases. The SF County Jail is already sufficiently full of these people, as are the sidewalks and alleyways. Why should the taxpayers be obligated to provide food, housing, medical care, etc. for people who don't wish to take care of their own responsibilities?
Don't kid yourself about someone caring about these drunks. This is an economic move, since otherwise the hospitals are mandated to evaluate and provide medical care for them, which would cost a lot more than a "safe place."
Last edit by sjoe on Feb 7, '03
Feb 7, '03
emily responds: "Obviously you don't understand that not ALL homeless people are lazy or "don't wish to take care of their own responsibilities" as you say."
The topic of this thread is NOT homeless people, but drunks who would otherwise be in jails or ERs because of their behavior.
and: "Does that make every over-worked, stressed out RN/LPN a possible criminal? "
Of course every nurse, stressed out or not, is a possible criminal, as is everyone else. And if this theoretical nurse behaves in a criminal manner, and is relatively obvious about it, then he/she can expect to be arrested at some point.
and: "I volunteer at a homeless men's shelter and also for Feed My People foodbank/shelter. What have YOU done to help?"
Good for you, but don't break your arm patting yourself on the back. That is a LOT different from spending several 8-hour shifts/week with them, IMHO.
NMA writes: 'I was referring to why aren't the intoxicated being taken to the local police drunk tank these days to "sober up?" '
Well, in San Francisco the tanks are often filled to overflowing, AND sometimes these people are going through DTs, seizures, etc. Perhaps when and if the City has its next budget surplus (I am not holding my breath), it could put more money into more and larger drunk tanks. (That would be an interesting campaign issue. I can see the placards now.) Certainly would be a more cost-effective measure than the ER (except for the lawsuits that result when inmates later complain that they didn't get the healthcare that the Supreme Court has mandated they are entitled to). Many problems.
colleen writes: "I doubt the hospitals are putting this plan into action out of the goodness of their hearts. This is probably the most cost effective way for them to handle an immense and growing problem."
Hopefully it will work out.
The next major problem of the same kind is the street IV drug users, whose abscesses, when I lived there a couple years ago, were costing upwards of $100,000 to treat. Many of my patients had current I&Ds and scores of old scars from previous infections.
Should the ERs and jails be clogged up with these people? Should taxpayers be shouldering this weight? Should the county hospitals be over-burdened by these costs? Should you or your family members have to wait extra hours in an ER to get treated because of this overload? I haven't seen any effective solutions as yet.
Last edit by sjoe on Feb 7, '03