Funder: California Health Care Foundation
Author: Priti Khanal and Rachel Davis, Center for Health Care Strategies
July 2020 | Profile
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 experiencing homelessness. They were being placed in isolation or quarantine for their safety. Yet in these settings, they would be at high risk of withdrawal.
To respond to the needs of this population, Smith-Bernardin partnered with California’s Alameda and San Francisco Counties to pilot one of the country’s first managed alcohol programs. Using a harm reduction lens, the pilots provide people experiencing homelessness who are in protective housing under Project Roomkey with a medically supervised supply of alcohol and supportive services. The program is designed to avoid complications related to abrupt alcohol withdrawal while reducing risk of COVID-19 infection. This profile outlines the implementation strategy of the alcohol management program, as well as future considerations for the program.