Reducing Emergency Room Visits: Hospital to Home Progresses
Taylor left home at 13 for the streets of Chicago where he lived in a car, abandoned buildings, and friends’ houses, drinking and using drugs to cope.
Homeless and struggling with depression and alcoholism, he also developed several health conditions including hypertension, arthritis, chronic back pain, and hyper sensitivity to light. He visited the emergency room often.
Frustrated with his life and eager to establish a connection with his granddaughter, Taylor moved to Minnesota. But, life continued in much the same way: he lived in his car and at the Union Gospel Mission, eventually pitching a tent behind the building.
After another trip to the emergency room, he was referred to Hospital to Home (H2H.) That’s where he met Peggy, a Guild RN. “I was hurting so bad,” he says recalling their first encounter. “I was suicidal.”
Peggy helped Taylor get into a crisis program; Guild staff helped him locate housing options, find a primary care physician, and get to appointments. Less than one month later, he secured an apartment of his own. Three months later, with support from Senior Recovery – a group Guild staff encouraged him to join – he stopped drinking. And, in the first 11 months in H2H, he reduced his emergency department visits to 0, down from 9 visits prior to enrolling in H2H.
Taylor’s outcomes illustrate findings in the current H2H report, Reducing Avoidable Hospital Emergency Department Visits While Improving Stability and Health:
- The total number of emergency department visits by participants decreased by 74% after enrollment.
- All participants moved into stable housing within four months of enrollment in H2H, and 87% were living in apartments as of July 2015.
- Average self-sufficiency scores were higher after H2H enrollment
Kristin Dillon, PhD, has authored reports on Hospital to Home since the program’s beginning as a pilot project in 2009. “Each time we have more data, the more clearly the results indicate that H2H has a strong influence on emergency department visits,” she says. “This model has repeatedly demonstrated positive outcomes for serving some of the highest need individuals. These outcomes reach from health care — which affects not only the individual, but our overall system — to housing to self-sufficiency and quality of life.”
Quality of life is exactly what it’s about for Taylor. He’s still in his apartment, and celebrates one and a half years of sobriety. He’s studying to take the GED test, and hopes to pursue social work. “From 13 until Guild, it was my way or no way. I was going to live on the streets forever,” he says. “But, I was proven wrong.”
July 18, 2016