SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- In November, San Francisco will have one online system that will connect seven substance abuse and mental health treatment centers to make sure that every bed is used and occupied.
What took so long?
Mayor London Breed said few people before her were talking about real change to address the problem.
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When there's an empty bed at a treatment center, the health department is usually notified via email. But that's done only once a day, in the morning.
"On any given night there are a number of beds that are available," explained Mayor Breed.
She says those beds could go to people who need them that evening, instead of waiting until the next morning.
But until now there hasn't been a way to get the exact number of empty beds at treatment centers online and in real time.
In November seven centers will be connected online. All of them will know each other's availability.
Sort of like when you select an airplane seat online in real-time.
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This is how we can better track people so that we can basically provide the kind of support service so that no one organization is off doing what they're doing on their own. This is a more efficient way," added Breed.
His name is Aubrey and he suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder after being stabbed inside a shelter. He sought out help, but not everyone does.
"It's hard, I still have nightmares, I still get paranoid if I'm in a shelter. But I am getting help," he told us.
Of the seven non-profits sharing information HealthRIGHT 360 is the largest with a total of 239 addiction and mental health treatment beds. According to the Mayor's Office, there are 4,000 homeless people with mental illness and substance use disorders.
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What about those using drugs who aren't seeking help?
Today Supervisor Matt Haney introduced legislation demanding that the health department declare a public health crisis. Last year 259 people died in San Francisco of drug overdoses.
"Drug overdoses kill five times as many people as homicides, five times as many people as traffic deaths here in San Francisco and yet there is no emergency plan," explained Haney.
He added that the city needs to buy more Narcan to treat a narcotic overdose in an emergency.
More drop-in and detox centers are also needed as well as more outreach program, said Haney.
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