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Advocates Struggle to Access Coronavirus

According to that procedure, homeless people who show symptoms of coronavirus should be screened by a health care provider and then moved into one of the more than 1,400 rooms the county is using to temporarily shelter people. One hundred of those rooms are specifically for homeless San Diegans considered particularly at risk, while the 1,327 others are for any person who has tested positive for coronavirus, shows symptoms or is awaiting a test  San Diego News result and who does not have a safe place to stay. The county began placing people into those rooms earlier this week, though officials have declined to say how many people have been placed in them.

Fletcher acknowledged in an interview Friday that staff at Scripps Green should have connected Miller to a motel room on Thursday. He said both the county and health care providers are rushing to ramp up a complex process.

“In a time of crisis when folks are moving very rapidly to stand up tremendous capacity to meet a great need, there will be isolated instances where one doctor at one hospital may not have gotten the full briefing on exactly how it works but every day we are communicating to our health care providers, we are communicating with homeless service providers, we are communicating with hospitals, the resources that are available,” Fletcher said. “We will continue to do that every single day.”

Spokespeople for the county’s Health and Human Services Agency, 2-1-1 San Diego and nonprofit McAlister Institute, an agency focused on substance abuse programs that provide some motel vouchers for homeless San Diegans during inclement weather, all had similar assessments.

“The COVID-19 pandemic is a rapidly evolving situation, and we are working diligently with health care and social services providers to ensure that we can best respond to the needs of all members of our community,” county spokesman Craig Sturak wrote in an email to VOSD. “We are continually reviewing policies and direction with our provider partners as the situation changes and will continue to do so during this public health emergency.”

Meg Storer, a vice president at 2-1-1 San Diego, said 2-1-1 has directed homeless callers who fear they may have coronavirus to contact their health care providers and connected those who do not have them directly to the county’s public health nurse triage line since only healthcare providers can direct people to the county’s motel rooms.

Dr Jim Dunford, McAlister’s medical director, said the agency tried to accommodate Miller and that her experience spotlights the need to address the unique problems facing homeless San Diegans.

“This whole situation underscores the complexity of managing complex health care issues when you’re dealing with a very vulnerable population who lack the normal connections to the health care system,” Dunford said. “That, I think, is a particular lesson.”

County officials have said they are working to provide more shelter and coronavirus screening options for homeless San Diegans and that those who fear they may have coronavirus should contact their health care providers. Gov. Gavin Newsom has also said the state has identified 950 hotels statewide that could at least temporarily house homeless Californians.

Many homeless San Diegans who live on the streets, however, do not have health care providers and often struggle to keep their cell phones charged, a challenge that has grown following closures of local libraries, where they often check email and charge their phones. Without those resources, they can struggle to seek appointments and information and to stay in touch with those who may be trying to help them.

Homeless San Diegans and advocates expressed confusion about how Press Release Distribution Services  In San Diego to access the motel room and other resources local government officials are pledging to provide.

Marie, a 60-year-old homeless woman with congestive heart failure and other health issues, told VOSD earlier this week that she had repeatedly called 2-1-1 hoping to access to a motel room to no avail.

Lynn M. Schmidt, who managed to secure a cot in Father Joe’s inclement weather shelter multiple days this week, said she had also been calling 2-1-1 for days in hopes of securing a motel voucher as her fears about coronavirus escalated and she struggled to keep her phone charged.

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