Columnist Skeptical Of New SF Policy For Drunks


San Francisco Chronicle columnist C.W. Nevius comments on his city’s new policy for “dealing with chronic drunks who clog emergency rooms, monopolize ambulance services and cost the city millions of dollars.” He writes, “The plan has been years in the making, has an integrated structure between city agencies and is supposed to cut costs. I don’t like it. It perpetuates the old structural problems, doesn’t change much of what happens on the street and is banking on voluntary participation by a group that is notoriously difficult to treat.”

Nevius said the plan, which will begin over the next six months, combines efforts from the Fire Department, which runs ambulances, and the Department of Public Health, which supervises outreach teams. They direct chronic inebriates to the new Mission Street Sobering Center, which is a safe place to sober up and then offers them treatment. He writes, “Will it work? You’ll know in January, the first time you step over a body on a street and wonder if the guy is breathing.”

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