Medical Respite Care is coming to Tucson!
What is medical respite care? Short-term residential care that allows homeless individuals the opportunity to recuperate in a safe environment with access to medical care and other supportive services.
Please check out this article about Medical Respite Care!
UPDATE: In order to help the immediate needs of our homeless population, we are developing and overseeing 8-14 beds at the Center of Opportunity which will open in Spring, 2019. We will be interviewing medical folks for some part-time employment and of course will be looking for volunteers with medical backgrounds. We are enlisting folks to be part of this process by convening 2 groups: Medical, Social Service/Mental Health. If interested, please let us know.
NEEDS: At this time, development finances and prayer!
An excellent video from Boston, MA:
Check out Phoenix’s answer to this growing problem: Circlethecity.org
Medical respite care reduces hospital readmissions. Research shows that homeless patients who participate in medical respite programs are 50 percent less likely to be readmitted to a hospital at three months and twelve months post-hospital discharge. Avoiding costly discharge delays as well as reducing hospital readmissions generates significant savings for hospitals and communities.
Why do we need medical respite care? Homelessness exacerbates health problems, complicates treatment, and disrupts the continuity of care. People experiencing homelessness have high rates of physical and mental illness, increased mortality, and frequent hospitalizations. Homeless persons are three to four times more likely to die prematurely than their housed counterparts do. These deaths are most highly associated with acute and chronic medical conditions exacerbated by life on the streets or in shelters. Homeless adults are hospitalized more frequently than those in the general population and often require longer inpatient stays; however, their lack of a stable home environment diminishes the long-term effectiveness of their hospital care. Living on the streets after hospital discharge creates impossible situations for homeless patients. Challenges such as obtaining food, clothing and shelter, or achieving or maintaining sobriety can compromise adherence to medications, physician instructions, and follow-up appointments, thus increasing the probability of future hospitalizations. Medical respite care closes the gap between acute medical services provided in hospitals and clinics and the unstable environments of emergency shelters and the streets. Medical respite care is an essential component of the continuum of homeless health care services. We advocate that medical respite services be available in all communities serving homeless clients.
Medical Respite Care Improves Lives. Ahmed lost both his family and his business in 2001. Forced to move to the streets, he became depressed and started drinking heavily. In 2005, he had a stroke and was hospitalized. With no place to call home, he was discharged back to the streets where his health continued to deteriorate. An outreach team brought him to a medical respite program where he was medically stabilized, received help for his depression and referred to a program that specializes in treating co-occurring mental illness and addiction. Ahmed is now in supportive housing and participating in a recovery program. After three years, he continues to visit his primary care clinic and psychiatrist and has not been hospitalized since 2005. Asocial worker from a local hospital called the medical respite center regarding Georgette, a 63-year-old woman with hypertension (180/100) and renal failure. Lacking health insurance, the nephrologist at the hospital was unwilling to initiate dialysis. Georgette was unable to get into a nursing home and was too ill to stay in a homeless shelter. Georgette was admitted into the medical respite program where she had a shunt inserted for dialysis. Case managers at the medical respite program assisted Georgette in accessing SSI and Medicaid benefits and were able to place her in an assisted living facility. She now receives dialysis three times a week at a nearby medical center. Courtesy of National Health Care for the Homeless Council, Inc.
A Tucson RN Case Mgr. shares her observations:
Tucson, especially the south side, is a long-standing underserved community with an overwhelming growing homeless population. Most of this homeless population is acutely and chronically ill. The acuity is so great and the resources are so few. Some of these patients may require dialysis, complex wound care, including use of wound VACS, IV Antibiotics for weeks. Some greatly benefit from short courses of peripheral parental nutrition / total parental nutrition (PPN/TPN). Many need access to Mental Health Services and some just need the right to die in peace with dignity through Hospice Care. Mostly they require disease education and management, training for life skills, loving support and compassion.
Our lack of resources here in Tucson frequently limits the homeless with such acuity from skilled nursing facility (SNF) placement for these treatments since the SNF’s are not allowed to discharge to the street or regular shelters. The hospitals in Tucson have no choice but to keep these patients for longer and longer lengths of stay further depleting our finances. We are discharging these patients too soon, reinforcing the revolving door of constant readmissions but ultimately not truly helping them.