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Health Care for the Homeless: Essential Hospitals and Community Partnerships

Homelessness is a complex social factor that is closely connected with health and health care. To improve care for homeless patients, essential hospitals must be involved in larger, community-based efforts that bridge the gap between health care and social supports, including housing.

This brief summarizes the role essential hospitals play in caring for homeless patients, strategies for improving care for the homeless, potential partners for essential hospitals, and recommendations for forming sustainable partnerships.

Research Brief – Health Care for the Homeless: Essential Hospitals and Community Partnerships


  • Homelessness is a social condition that is closely associated with poor health outcomes and overuse of health care services.
  • Essential hospitals represent a critical stage of intervention for redirecting homeless patients to appropriate medical care, social services, and stable housing.
  • Rethinking the discharge process for homeless patients could be the most effective intervention to improve these patients’ health outcomes.
  • Breaking down care siloes and partnering with community services can aid essential hospitals in providing homeless patients comprehensive services that reach beyond the hospital stay.
  • Having a community presence and making time for in-person meetings can greatly facilitate partnerships between hospitals and other community organizations.


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