Hudson County partnering with health care providers to free up hospital beds in anticipation of shortage

Hudson County has entered into a partnership with CarePoint Health and Alliance Community Health to create a step-down unit for recovering homeless COVID-19 patients in two unoccupied buildings near Christ Hospital in Jersey City.

The purpose of the unit is to allow hospitals in Hudson County to discharge patients who contracted COVID-19 and were admitted, but now are deemed fit enough for discharge but who are homeless.

Hospitals can only release patients who can demonstrate they have somewhere to go upon discharge, officials said. Sending the recovering patients to homeless shelters would expose vulnerable populations with chronic health issues in the shelters to recovering people who could transmit the virus to them.

State officials fear there may be a shortage of hospital beds across the state, and this new unit will help ensure there are enough beds at Christ and also protect the shelter network from the spread of the virus.

The target population is homeless individuals demonstrating mild symptoms, who if they had stable housing would simply be released to recover at home.

The Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) will lease the space from CarePoint Health to set up what is known as a federally qualified health care center (FQHC) for the county, in partnership with Jersey City-based Alliance Community Health.

The unit is expected to serve an anticipated 100 homeless clients at one time.

The HCIA will be reimbursed by the County Division of Welfare with funds provided by the State Department of Family Development during this pandemic. The initial estimated cost to operate the unit will be $296,000 a month.

The step-down unit for the recovering homeless will provide the following services to these recovering homeless individuals:

  • 24-hour access to clinical care through a staff of doctors and nurses
  • Regular monitoring of inhabitants respiratory function
  • Monitor for potential relapse so a proactive decision can be made to re-admit a person into the hospital
  • Medically clear those in the homeless shelter population in isolation so that they can enter shelters again without concern that they might infect anyone in the shelter network, staff, volunteers, vulnerable fellow clients
  • Professional medical laundry and cleaning services, and medical waste disposal services.

A contractor that provides security at medical facilities in the region will do so for this new unit.

“I believe this is a sensible way to ensure that our hospitals can focus on providing critical care and our homeless shelters remain truly safe havens for those in need of them,” said Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise.

“I want to thank the leadership of CarePoint Health, the city of Jersey City and our dedicated team from the Hudson County Department of Family Services and the HCIA who put this together. This unit will help stop the spread of COVID-19. It will save lives.”

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