At the east end of Englewood’s central corridor, Swedish Medical Center treats as many as a half-dozen homeless individuals per day who come through the emergency room. “Some seasonality …
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Colorado Community Media's ongoing series, “No Place to Call Home,” explores the reasons behind the rise in homelessness in Englewood and the response from various parts of the community, from businesses and city government to nonprofits, the faith community and schools.
For part 1 and the rest of part 2 of the series, which explores the relationship between the homeless, law enforcement and other public institutions, click here.
At the east end of Englewood’s central corridor, Swedish Medical Center treats as many as a half-dozen homeless individuals per day who come through the emergency room.
“Some seasonality occurs,” said Peter Frohmader, spokesman for Swedish Medical Center. “We typically see an increase in patient volume due to colder weather in winter.”
Almost daily, police see a homeless person transported to the emergency room after drinking too much alcohol, Englewood police Sgt. Reid McGrath said. On the street, most overdoses are alcohol-related, but a small number are methamphetamine-induced, and even a smaller number caused by heroin, he added.
People transported to the emergency room for overdoses on the street also include people with homes, McGrath said.
But the number of homeless people being transported to Swedish appears to have increased over the past several years, McGrath said. “It’s always been an issue, but it seems to be more prevalent.”
Swedish has seen “possibly a slight increase” in the number of homeless people it serves in the past three or four years, Frohmader said, “as neighboring cities encourage relocation of homeless populations.”
That observation of nearby cities is based on what patients have said, according to Sheree Montoya, director of emergency services at Swedish.
The hospital does not have data on whether patients say they usually stay in Englewood, Frohmader said.
The emergency room can get busy, but all patients’ needs are evaluated and treated as necessary, Frohmader said, adding that the number of homeless patients doesn’t present an ongoing problem.
Case managers can connect all patients — not just the homeless — with shelters, substance-abuse treatment programs, psychiatric help, food banks and other resources, Montoya said.
“However, it is more challenging when patients lack stable housing,” she said. “Our case managers facilitate the stabilization of health and housing for our patients. Many of our homeless patients have difficulty gaining access to the health and social services they need to manage an illness.”
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