Despite much attention over many years, Sacramento still struggles with a seemingly overwhelming homelessness epidemic, and CEO of UC Davis Health, Dr. David Lubarsky, has seen its effects firsthand. Tackling the problem head-on, he’s spearheading a plan to address homelessness with an all-encompassing practical and caring approach that would make better use of existing resources.
“Our emergency department treats many chronically homeless people, but a hospital isn’t the optimal solution to these issues,” says Lubarsky. He has become an unintended expert on what it would take to truly help the chronically homeless, now partnering with Sacramento County mental health and public health services to figure it out.
“Many homeless people deal with behavioral health issues, exposure to the elements and substance abuse disorders,” says Lubarsky. “Attacking only one issue at a time won’t solve the problem. They need everything at once — social support systems, intensive psychological or behavioral health assistance, substance abuse disorder assistance, and ongoing primary care, because the life expectancy for a homeless person is about 25 years less than the general population.”
With in-depth research, analysis and a California Health Care Foundation grant, Lubarsky is on a mission to establish an integrated care campus — a one-stop services shop — that can deliver positive changes in Sacramento’s level of homelessness. The proposed campus would be inviting and voluntary, providing housing for 400-600 people for six months up to two years. It would also feature an intensive outpatient facility for behavioral and ongoing psychological counseling, primary care, social services and access to inpatient behavioral health services as needed.
“We must reimagine how we as a society provide housing for all our fellow citizens. AKT is honored to work with Dr. Lubarsky and UC Davis Health to identify new approaches to promote dignity and health for our community’s most vulnerable .” — Chrysa Demos, CEO | AKT Investments
“We’ve built a coalition of other health care systems, community and homeless advocates, charitable foundations, city and county officials, and the business community to begin to address this issue,” says Lubarsky. “Even so, we will need the entire community’s support to make this happen, creating a brighter future for all of us.”