Wednesday, March 14, 2018

"Rolling them out in their wheelchairs in the rain"

From a SF Examiner story earlier this week:

 ...41 deaths of homeless residents recorded in San Francisco between Dec. 1, 2014 and Dec. 1, 2015.

The potentially deadly outcome of homelessness is often overlooked amid today’s tense political and cultural debate over how best to address the issue, which was heightened in recent weeks by sweeps of tents along Division Street. But the fact remains that homeless residents suffer from severe health issues at earlier ages and hundreds have died on San Francisco’s streets, their lives cut short, in the past decade.

The San Francisco Examiner obtained details of the homeless deaths on record at the Medical Examiner’s Office and the Public Health Department since July 2005 through the Freedom of Information Act...a review of homeless deaths by a small group of city officials is bringing renewed attention to the mortality of San Francisco’s homeless residents in ways that could change services and rethink approaches to housing.

Rob's comment:
No need to invoke the Freedom of Information Act to get that information, since at my request the helpful folks at DPH have provided me copies of the Homeless Death Form every year since 2007.

I started listing the names of homeless people who die on city streets after the Newsom administration stopped publishing the annual death totals, apparently for political reasons. 

City Hall should be publishing these numbers, not an obscure blog, since it provides a sense of urgency about the reality of the chronic emergency of homelessness.

From a Chronicle story last Saturday:

Unlike Oakland, San Francisco compiles the number of homeless people who die each year. But officials caution that their count is probably a significant underestimation because homeless people who spend their last days in housing or a hospital may not make the tally.

That is, like me the city "compiles the number" but then it doesn't publish it, which is surely a political decision. Providing that annual body count makes the city look bad, the thinking apparently goes, so why do it?

From the Chronicle story:

Josh Bamberger, a UCSF physician who has been treating homeless patients for the past two decades, said there’s already sufficient data on the perils of homelessness. “We have mountains of data to tell us why homelessness is bad,” he said. “It’s bad for your health, it’s expensive, and it kills you at a younger age.”

He pointed to a 2009 research paper he co-authored that examined the impact of housing on the survival of homeless people with AIDS. Only two out of 71 placed in housing died after five years. In the same period, three-quarters of the 610 people without housing had died. Some studies have indicated that homelessness is correlated with a 25-year decrease in one’s life expectancy.

“If the health care system embraced housing as the one and true treatment to improve the health of homeless people, that money would be well spent,” Bamberger said. “I used to believe I should put my energies in providing the best care...But there’s an absurdity in having a patient with perfect blood pressure, perfect control of their sugar and treatment of their cancers and then rolling them out in their wheelchair into the rain.”

Back in 2000, I sent this message to the publisher of the "progressive" Bay Guardian:

Subject: A Weekly Body Count?
Date: Friday, Feb. 04, 2000
From: Rob Anderson
To: Bruce Brugmann

Mr. Brugmann:

Since the Public Health Dept. tells us that 169 homeless people died on our streets last year, why not run a weekly body count of such deaths? The body counts the media used during the US war on Vietnam prevented anyone who read the papers or watched the news on TV from forgetting about the war. If you could pry a weekly body count from Public Health, why not box it off and run it up front in the Guardian?

Brugmann didn't respond, and the Bay Guardian left in San Francisco continued its historic failure on the homeless issue, which provided Gavin Newsom with the political opening to become Mayor of San Francisco.

Now that the homeless, with the tent camps sprouting on city streets, are so highly visible they can't be ignored, the fatality numbers are unlikely to have the impact they might have had years ago. But the numbers are a reminder of how the city---and the country, for that matter---is still falling short on this ongoing emergency.

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Krugman on Kudlow

Trump tells people he is selecting Larry Kudlow to replace Gary Cohn
Larry Kudlow

President Trump apparently has picked Larry Kudlow as his economic adviser to replace Gary Cohn.

Paul Krugman's professional opinion of Kudlow in 2016:

Kudlow is to economics what William Kristol is to political strategy: if he says something, you know it’s wrong. When he ridiculed “bubbleheads” who thought overvalued real estate could bring down the economy, you should have rushed for the bomb shelters; when he proclaimed Bush a huge success, because a rising stock market is the ultimate verdict on a presidency (unless the president is a Democrat), you should have known that the Bush era would end with epochal collapse.

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