• Community CareLink

Emergency Room Deferment Program Saves Money and Helps People Experiencing Homelessness

Working with Benilde Hall and other partners, Community CareLink (CCL) has been part of a pilot program to rethink how emergency responders handle calls from people experiencing homelessness.


The deferment program changes the way emergency responders handle these calls. Previously people were taken to the emergency department. With the deferment program, emergency responders evaluate the person’s medical condition, and if there is not a medical emergency, they are taken to a residential program.


Using CCL’s community information exchange, the team gathered 10 months of data on the efficacy of the emergency department deferment program. The results are striking. Comparing 50 cases that went to the emergency department and 50 cases that were deferred to a residential program, they found:

· When taken to the emergency department people spent an average of one night in

the hospital ($3,700 per night)

· When taken to a residential program people spent an average of 60 days ($22 per

night) for a savings of $304,000

· When taken to the emergency department and hospitalized people spent and average

three nights in the hospital ($3,700 per night)

· When taken to a residential program people spent an average of 60 days ($22 per

night) for a savings of $1,204,000

· Most importantly, 60 days at a residential program means people are finding stability

and potentially changing their circumstances


“To be able to track these numbers has been crucial to understanding what works and what doesn’t work,” said Will Steffen, Director of Growth for CCL. “This can save our community millions of dollars, but more importantly, it can improve lives by addressing the underlying issues facing people who are experiencing chronic homelessness.”


Benilde Hall provides services for treating substance use disorders, mental health issues and homelessness, so individuals have a better chance to return to the community as employed and permanently housed members of society.


The pilot allows for 60 days at a residential program. Participants’ needs are assessed to provide a pathway to stability and potentially changing their circumstances. The pilot that has been running for 10 months has already assisted 50 individuals deferred to Benilde Hall.


After calling 911, Kevin, age 59, was referred to Benilde Hall for treatment for a substance use disorder. He encourages others in situations “to seek a program like Benilde Hall. I didn’t know places like this existed.”

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