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Homeless Residents, Advocates Struggle to Access Coronavirus Resources

A 63-year-old homeless woman tested for coronavirus at Scripps Green Hospital on Thursday afternoon spent the night in her car, despite county protocols ordering that people awaiting test results who do not have a safe place to stay move into one of hundreds of motel rooms amassed by the county.
Her experience highlights the challenges officials and San Diego News residents in need face as the county scrambles to open up motel rooms for people who have tested positive or are showing symptoms of coronavirus who do not have a safe place to stay and to coordinate with dozens of health care and service providers to move people into them.
Nancy Miller said she got tested Thursday, after staying in an El Cajon motel room for two nights with the help of a voucher through McAlister Institute’s inclement weather program. A nonprofit official recommended the test after she said she had been sick for days.
After taking the test, Miller said, she left Scripps Green Thursday afternoon without direction on where she could self-isolate.

“They said, ‘We don’t know where you should quarantine. We only take a swab,’” Miller recalled.
Miller, who has been short of breath, dizzy and vomiting the past several days, returned to her car feeling dejected. She said she spent the night parked outside a La Jolla grocery store with Cuddles, her toy poodle.
“I can’t quarantine because I have no home,” Miller said. “I’ve been trying.”
A spokesman for Scripps Health suggested in a statement that Miller’s homelessness may not have been apparent to hospital staff.
“When a patient calls into the dedicated Scripps nurse line, their home address is requested and recorded in their record,” spokesman Keith DarcĂ© wrote. “Every patient who has been tested at our COVID cabanas has provided a home address during registration.”
But Miller said she told Scripps Green nurses that she was homeless.
Miller’s experience contradicts guidelines shared with hospitals, health care providers and homeless service agencies in a Tuesday memo from Public Health Officer Wilma Wooten.
The memo, obtained by Voice of San Diego, notes that the county has secured motel rooms across the region for “pre-screened individuals requiring isolation.”
“To reduce transmission of COVID-19, the individual must be transported DIRECTLY to the hotel,” Wooten wrote in the memo. “It is important to communicate to the individual that they are required by (the) county public officer to remain in their room until further notice.”
At a Wednesday press conference, Wooten and Press Release Distribution Services  In San Diego County Supervisor Nathan Fletcher said the county is deploying 16 homeless outreach teams with public health nurses to link unsheltered homeless San Diegans with coronavirus symptoms with care and motel rooms.
Yet Miller fell through the cracks as she sought and received a coronavirus test. She said she got a call from county officials Thursday night after an advocate and VOSD separately contacted the county. When Miller spoke with VOSD at about 12:30 p.m. Friday, she was on her way to a Mission Valley hotel she was told she’d remain in until she receives test results. Miller said she had previously made multiple calls to the 2-1-1 referral line and Fletcher’s office. “I’ve left repeated messages for the last five days saying I need to be quarantined,” Miller said. Fletcher publicly laid out the procedures for obtaining a motel room earlier this week.
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