UCLA Health receives $25.3 million for street medicine program caring for homeless

State grant expands coordination with others serving those experiencing homelessness
Man checked by nurse next to care van

The UCLA Health Homeless Healthcare Collaborative has received a $25.3 million, two-year state grant to expand access and enhance coordination of medical and behavioral health care provided to people experiencing homelessness in Los Angeles.

The grant will fund new equipment and staff, including community health workers to assess patient needs, identify barriers to care and expand access to a variety of services in collaboration with other caregivers, social service agencies, health plans and the state.

Funding from the California Department of Health Care Services will also be used to develop and implement records management and communication systems allowing UCLA Health and other street medicine teams to coordinate care provided to unhoused people. This is important for continuity of treatment.

“We are grateful for the state’s support of our effort to leverage partnerships and provide high-quality, equitable health care to a highly underserved population,” said Johnese Spisso, president of UCLA Health and CEO of the UCLA Hospital System. “We’re eager to build on our considerable progress with the UCLA Health Homeless Healthcare Collaborative, a program that reflects our broader commitment to improving community health by providing care outside the walls of our hospitals and clinics.”

healthcare vans

The grant is part of California’s effort to transform Medi-Cal, the state’s version of Medicaid, the federal government’s public health insurance program for those with limited income. The state effort, known as CalAIM, emphasizes preventive, personalized medicine and greater coordination among a network of health partners providing equitable care.

“This visionary state grant will exponentially expand our coordinated efforts to meet the health care and wellness needs of individuals and families experiencing homelessness,” said Dr. Medell Briggs-Malonson, chief of Health Equity, Diversity and Inclusion at UCLA Health, emergency department physician and co-executive sponsor of the Homeless Healthcare Collaborative.

The UCLA Health Homeless Healthcare Collaborative – made possible by philanthropic support –launched in early 2022 with two specially equipped mobile health vans traveling to encampments, shelters and other locations to provide free preventive, primary and urgent medical care, medical screenings and referrals to social services. Last year, the mobile vans recorded 6,000 encounters with unhoused patients and provided medications more than 1,500 times.

Four additional vans will be deployed soon, thanks to a $592,000 grant  from a federal community projects funding program, sponsored by Rep. Ted Lieu, D-CA.

The UCLA Health Homeless Healthcare Collaborative provides free care to those who may not otherwise have access. The program also increases efficient use of resources; about 85% of UCLA Health emergency room visits made by people experiencing homelessness are due to primary- or urgent-care conditions that could be prevented or treated in the community, or the need for social services.

As part of the new state grant designed to enhance coordination, UCLA Health is planning to contract with Medi-Cal-managed care health plans with whom it already has relationships, including L.A. Care and HealthNet.