The Herald Bulletin

Afternoon Update

Local Business

November 17, 2013

Shelters question health center treatment of homeless

Task force official: '$25 is a lot when you have zero'

(Continued)

In May, three of the agencies — Beauty for Ashes, House of Hope and The Christian Center — reported they had been billed $25 for individual clients’ visits to the health center.

Since then, talks between the task force and health center have stalled.

The issue now, the agencies say, is that shelter residents are choosing to go to emergency rooms instead of the health center.

In recent months, St. Vincent Anderson Regional Hospital has seen an increase in visits to its emergency room by homeless patients, said spokesman Randy Titus. However, officials cannot directly relate the increase to health center policies or practices.

A spokesperson for Community Hospital Anderson said it has not seen an increase in residents from homeless shelters coming to the emergency room.

In the fall of 2012, the United Way of Madison County met with Malone and Bob Anders, vice chair of the board of directors for the health center, to discuss the reported suspension of services for shelter residents, said Nancy Vaughan, president of the United Way.

In February, the United Way received a grant request from the health center to fund medical care for shelter residents but it was not granted, in part, because a new memorandum of understanding had not been reached.

Now, task force members say they want to go back to the original agreement for free services for shelter residents.

“What we’d like to see if the health center gets back to its purpose to provide accessible medical care to those who are underinsured and underserved, which is the homeless population,” said Bond.

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