Through close collaboration, trained paramedics in San Francisco successfully diverted patients from the emergency department to the San Francisco Sobering Center.
Community Paramedicine: San Francisco Pilot Tests Sobering Center as ED Alternative (557 K)
Founded in 2003, the San Francisco Sobering Center provides an emergency department (ED) alternative to patients with a history of alcohol use disorder but no acute medical conditions. Patients who arrive there are assessed by registered nurses, given food and water, and connected to relevant social services where possible. One of the center's goals is to provide a safe space where people can become sober without diverting ED resources away from people with acute medical needs.
In 2017, California's Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development approved a pilot project that is a collaboration between community paramedicine (CP) teams, paramedics, and the SF Sobering Center. All 450 of the city's ambulance paramedics were given training in identifying patients who would be better suited to the Sobering Center than to the ED, and 10 paramedic captains with CP training provide support and serve as connectors between the paramedics and social services. The pilot's trained paramedics successfully diverted 267 patients from the ED to the Sobering Center between February and July of 2017.
Key highlights in the pilot's first six months include:
For more information on California’s community paramedicine pilot program, watch this video and hear from those on the front lines talk about progress from the first year.
Learn more about community paramedicine in California.