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Ensuring Appropriate Discharge Practices for Hospitalized Homeless Patients


  • Jean L. Hochron,

  • Ellen M. Brown


Discharge of homeless individuals from the hospital setting “into the community” often results in poor health outcomes, frequent re-hospitalization, and increased costs. Through appropriate collaboration involving hospital staff, shelter operators, and primary care providers, and with ongoing nurse case management engagement to maintain linkage among all parties, individuals who have experienced homelessness can recover successfully following hospitalization with fewer negative consequences. Nurse case managers are key, by ensuring that homeless patients receive necessary support upon release from the inpatient setting, assisting hospital staff in determining appropriate housing arrangements for homeless patients being discharged, and preparing shelter providers with the information and tools to support homeless patients posthospitalization. This collaboration may lead to significant improvement in housing stability for homeless patients and a reduction in hospital re-entry following discharge. This practice has implications for communities nationwide that are seeking to improve housing stability and reduce health-care costs.