Half of the top 100 heaviest users of the University of Illinois Hospital emergency room are homeless, according to Stephen Brown, director of Preventative Emergency Medicine at the hospital. “They come through all the time.”
Brown said these initial results show the project is good for patients and cost-effective for the hospital. The hospital pays $1,000 a month for patient housing. One day in the hospital can run about $3,000, a cost generally shared by the hospital, the patient, public assistance programs, and insurance companies.
According to the hospital, one patient’s medical costs dropped from an average of $132,000 per month to $55,000 a month after they were placed in housing.
“If every hospital in the area agreed to house 10 chronically homeless patients, which would be a relatively modest investment, we could collectively make a huge impact on reducing homelessness, and it would be near cost-neutral to every hospital,” Brown said.
And yeah, I’m sure there are lots of people out there who’ll be all, “But won’t this encourage more people to leech off the state hurf derf argle blarge dependency.” Which … if I told you tomorrow that there was a free room in a hospital that you could go live in, would you, um, do it? I know of exactly nobody who’s comfortably off who’d be like, “I would like to live in this sitch instead of my house so I will go out, develop a drug problem and/or illness which is difficult to treat, fall into joblessness, lose my house, live in a viaduct for 6 months and then wind up here at which point BOOYAH BABY I MADE A MIRACLE HAPPEN.”
No. You would not. Because that is insane.