A Collaboration Between Saint Luke’s Health System and Artists Helping The Homeless
With Support from Homer McWilliams Memorial Hospital Trust, Bank of America, Trustee
The preliminary recap of activity at Heartland/KCCC indicates the BE THE CHANGE Program worked with 428 clients at Heartland. That number includes at least 56 individuals referred to the facility and 15 others that were placed after presenting at the facility but could not be accepted. On several occasions, medication necessary for admittance to Heartland or a subsequent facility was purchased and/or delivered.
Over the year, the staff interacted with clients at the facility on 750 occasions. This includes 471 initial and follow-up meetings, over 200 of which involved discharge planning. In addition, the program arranged inpatient and outpatient treatment, transitional and long-term housing and other elements of the discharge plan. The program frequently moved clients and, at least 15 times, temporarily housed clients at the BE THE CHANGE Program expense, until a bed opened up. This assured seamless transitions and avoided a return to the street. In total, the program provided 247 rides to clients to/from Heartland.
These statistics do not include the follow-up meetings and services provided Heartland clients after their discharge that have improved outcomes of our mutual clients. Our goal is to improve outcomes and efficiency of not only our clients, but the agencies that serve them. We appreciate the opportunity to work with Heartland.
The BE THE CHANGE Program reduces the need and cost of hospital care for the homeless in several ways:
- Hospital Diversion – by helping clients identifies and access available services that more appropriately meet their immediate needs and address underlying issues that are not medical.
- Care coordination – by reducing the fragmentation and duplication of treatment that results from crisis-driven decisions. Working with clients throughout their path off the street adds consistency, client engagement and allows multiple issues to be addressed concurrently.
- Reduces Recidivism – by coordinating care, as well as temporary and long term housing.
- Where there is better nutrition, hygiene and adherence to treatment programs
- Providing direct support including rides, food and medicine.
- Permanent Housing – by getting away from the perils and temptations of the street.
- Maintaining contact – by being on the street or wherever the homeless are builds trust and rapport with this mobile and often hard to reach clientele.
As a result of its innovation and results, the program was invited to make a presentation at the National Health Care for the Homeless Conference in New Orleans, the second consecutive year and recognized by the Kansas City Substance Abuse Treatment and Recovery Support Coalition.
The “Be the Change” Program has been operating for almost four years. The organization was formed out of a partnership between “Artists Helping the Homeless” and Saint Luke’s Hospital with financial assistance from a grant sponsored by Bank of America and the Homer McWilliams Memorial Hospital Trust. Recent new partners included North Kansas City Hospital, Health Care Foundation of Greater Kansas City and Quiktrip. The mission of the program is to provide emergency transportation to and advocacy for Kansas City’s Homeless population, with an emphasis on using collaboration with community organizations and institutions as a means of reducing the social costs of homelessness.
The volume and diversity of demand for these services far exceeded our expectations, and by the end of the November, 2013 we had taken 28,200 trips to deliver services to 3,100 individuals. 20,000 of the 28,200 trips involved providing over 168,850 miles of transportation to our clients. These individuals came in significant numbers from every section of the Homeless population, including Chronic Homeless, Families, Battered Women and at-risk youth. Our intervention model involves referrals from community hospitals, organizations or the public at large, followed by transportation to a partner organization that provides an appropriate service. We also provide follow-up care after placement.
When necessary the “Be the Change” program will also provide emergency intervention stays to our unsheltered friends in order to create a seamless transition of services.
Through the end of November 2013, we have facilitated 43,595 bed nights for 2,054 individuals, and provided another 7,405 nights of emergency intervention shelter to 120 individuals, bringing the total number of bed nights to which the “Be the Change” Mobile unit contributed to 50,619.
All of this is undertaken to improve the lives of the city’s homeless and create a more efficient and effective service delivery system city wide. We estimate that through these efforts we have provided services valued at $6,500,000 from hospital costs avoided. Hospital savings were figured based on our service shortening the duration of hospital visits, providing transportation in place of ambulances, and preventing hospital visits altogether by delivering or brokering alternative, more appropriate services. Values associated with each of these categories were drawn from the Kansas City Police Department’s figures found in the video (below, farther down on the page), “The Cost Of Doing Nothing.”
- Partnering with Saint Luke’s to create BE THE CHANGE MOBILE UNIT to address the needs and emergency assistance of the homeless.
- The first step is a pilot program to identify and reduce the needs and costs of homeless emergency services.
- The BE THE CHANGE van operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for follow up appointments and from 5:00 p.m. to 12:00 a.m. for emergency services from its base near the Plaza. The van provides transportation to shelters and to other resources.
- Follow-up assistance and transportation is provided, as appropriate, during the day.
What Is The Cost of Doing Nothing?
It costs Kansas City taxpayers $5,390 each time a homeless person requires emergency services.
Eliminating just one emergency a day would save the city over $1.9 million annually.
In the Plaza area, emergency room visits by homeless cost of over $3 million annually.
Add to that, MAST charges total $340,000 annually for just ten individuals.
Only an estimated 20% of Emergency Room visits by homeless are considered a real emergency.
HELPING THE HOMELESS HELPING THE COMMUNITY
This pilot program is an innovative concept of our community to help homeless get services and assistance that will help them get off the street.
The program goes beyond the “quick fix’ with expanded, long term services.
AHH will work with, rather than duplicate existing agencies.
As a pilot program, it will adapt.
The van is meant to mutually benefit the homeless and our community.