El Paso, TEXAS - There is no guarantee; however, work is already being done to prepare for a new way to treat homeless patients who need medical help in El Paso.
University Medical Center is exploring the idea of permanently housing a nurse at the El Paso Rescue Mission. The plan, which was submitted to the state of Texas, is one of 52 projects being looked at for medical centers in El Paso and Hudspeth counties.
"Most of the biggest types of medical things that are needed, we'll take care of right here," explains Pastor Julius Martin.
Martin, who serves as the director of the Rescue Mission, said the shelter has been looking into the possibility of housing a nurse at the Rescue Mission for years. Previously, the idea hasn't gained much momentum, but the rising costs of medical care paired with changes in Medicaid are opening new doors.
In the future, Medicaid will no longer reimburse repeat visits for the same treatment within 60 days. With the Rescue Mission accounting for more than 200 ambulance visits last year alone, it's quick to see how costly trips to the Rescue Mission could become.
Martin told ABC-7 that it's his understanding that more than 90 percent of the ambulance visits to the Rescue Mission don't require hospital stays. In other words, with a nurse on staff, there would be a greater cost benefit for the patients and for the county taxpayers who ultimately foot the bill for county-owned hospitals like University Medical Center, where a majority of patients from the mission end up.
According to a public information officer with the hospital, there is a hope that the first projects associated with a Medicaid waiver will be, taking place next spring, or early summer. However, it's not known whether the federal government will approve the waiver. First, it must pass through state legislators, but according to those within UMC that is expected to happen.