About This Series
This series focuses on the challenges of addressing the health and health care needs, both related and unrelated to the pandemic, of people who are homeless, and spotlights emerging care innovations, partnerships, and practices across the state. See the full Homelessness and COVID-19 series.
When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Shannon Smith-Bernardin, PhD, RN, CNL, cofounder of the National Sobering Collaborative, was concerned about people with alcohol use disorders who are experiencing homelessness. They were being placed in isolation, quarantine, or protective housing for their safety. Yet in these settings, they would be at high risk of withdrawal and the array of health care risks it brings, including death.
Recognizing the importance of this issue, Smith-Bernardin partnered with Alameda County and San Francisco County to pilot one of the country’s first managed alcohol programs. They are using these pilots to not only meet the immediate health needs of this population, but also to collect best practices in the hopes of replicating the program for people experiencing homelessness more broadly and under non-COVID-19 circumstances in the future.