TREATMENT OF HOMELESS INDIVIDUALS AT THE HOSPITAL EMERGENCY ROOM

We have had several complaints from our homeless friends, of poor treatment at the Sierra Nevada Memorial Hospital Emergency Department recently.  On May 24th Sierra Roots’ board members met with those responsible for the ED services, to advocate for more sensitive and kinder treatment of our most vulnerable population. Also attending was one of our homeless people, who has been a patient at the ED several times. We met with Dr. Brian Evans, Chief Medical Officer, nurses Karin Zink, Caroline Hart, and Stephanie Kreiter, outreach coordinator.

Our meeting was very cordial and collaborative.  We expressed the reports of unkind treatment of several of our homeless who have come to the ED by themselves.  Our homeless disabled veteran - Matthew Coulter- told them about how some of the nurses talk about the homeless persons in degrading ways within earshot of that person.  And then sometimes when the homeless person is released, they might be told to go home and take a hot bath, and rest, without being sensitive to the fact that they have no home to go back to where they can recuperate.  

Sierra Roots offered to be on call for homeless individuals who need advocacy and care after the visit.  Sierra Roots is training advocates to take individuals to the ED, stay with them during their treatment, and then return them to their campsite. Advocates will assist the homeless individual find a primary care physician and medical insurance. We asked the hospital directors we met with to live up to the “kindness” motto that they have taken to be their mission.  And we now know who to contact when and if we or our homeless people have any more negative experiences in the emergency department at the hospital.

Update: Janice just had a negative unkind experience when taken to the ED on Thursday, June 2nd. A very unfriendly and negative nurse ignored her most of the time - efficient but impatient.  She will be contacting the head nurse of the ED department, as we discussed at the joint meeting.