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News and Information
September 5, 2018
New Medical Respite Care Program Helps Homeless Improve Health
Developed by CHI Franciscan, Catholic Community Services, Peninsula Community Health Services, and others; Benedict House will provide homeless a continuum of quality care and reduce unnecessary trips to the Emergency Services department
Bremerton, Washington - A partnership of area nonprofits including CHI Franciscan Health, Catholic Community Services (CCS), and Peninsula Community Health Services are expanding care to the growing homeless population on the Peninsula with a new medical respite care program. Located at CCS’s Benedict House, the program will provide care to homeless patients on the Peninsula who are in need of extra care but do not need continued hospitalization.
Between 2016 and 2017, the homeless population on the Peninsula increased by 13 percent to 663. Of those, 43 percent report having health issues as the primary reason for their homelessness. The medical respite care program is designed to provide a safe and secure location in Kitsap County. It will house male patients experiencing homelessness who are discharged from the hospital and need a stable environment to facilitate recuperation from their illness or injury. Individuals will receive 24-hour shelter, food, social services, and transportation to doctor’s and related medical service appointments.
“We are excited to help get this program off the ground and to further serve people in our community experiencing homelessness as they recover from illness,” says Jeanell Rasmussen, chief nursing officer, Harrison Medical Center, “While this is not a solution to the entire homeless issue on the Peninsula, we believe it is an important first step to address this critical need and help keep everyone in our community healthy.”
The program, which received over $20,000 from Harrison Foundation for administrative assistance, is based upon similar models in Washington state, including Nativity House in Tacoma, also managed by Catholic Community Services.
“The Respite Care program was designed for individuals who are healthy enough to discharge from the hospital but not healthy enough to finish healing on the streets,” says Joshua A. Waguespack, director of operations with Catholic Community Services, “The partnership bridges the gap between housing and health knowing that the sick and vulnerable become chronically homeless, and the chronically homeless require the most resources in terms of tax dollars.”
The medical respite program is built around the patients it serves but it will benefit non-program patients as well. Harrison Medical Center data shows that from October 2016 to December 2016, the hospital provided a total of 22,344 hours of avoidable inpatient care. Meaning that during this three-month period, there were multiple patients receiving inpatient care although they were healthy enough to be discharged to outpatient care. Various reasons kept these patients longer than necessary, one of those being homelessness. When patients experiencing homelessness are provided with a stable environment in which to recuperate, they are less likely to over-utilize the Emergency Services department, less likely to be readmitted for complications, and usually reduce their inpatient stays—increasing the hospital’s capacity to care for others in need.
“We are honored to be a partner in this program of healing,” says Chief Executive Officer of Peninsula Community Health Services, Jennifer Kreidler-Moss, “Although it doesn’t solve the affordable housing crisis in our area, it does put one more piece into the complex puzzle of healthcare for the vulnerable in our society. Providing the right care, at the right place reduces costs for the entire system which affects every member of society in one way or another.”
The Benedict House is still in the early stages of providing care to the homeless of the Peninsula and just saw its first patient in July. The program’s goal is to increase its capacity to accommodate more people, including women.
CHI Franciscan Health
CHI Franciscan Health is a nonprofit health system based in Tacoma, Washington, with $2.45 billion in total revenue and a team of more than 12,000 doctors, nurses and staff that provide expert, compassionate medical care at 10 acute care hospitals and over 200 primary and specialty care clinics in Pierce, King and Kitsap counties. This includes St. Anthony Hospital, Gig Harbor; St. Clare Hospital, Lakewood; St. Elizabeth Hospital, Enumclaw; St. Francis Hospital, Federal Way; St. Joseph Medical Center, Tacoma; Harrison Medical Center, Bremerton and Silverdale; Highline Medical Center, Burien; Regional Hospital, Burien; and CHI Franciscan Rehabilitation Hospital, Tacoma. Started in 1891 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, today CHI Franciscan is one of the largest health systems in Washington state. The system is comprised of more than 1,200 hospital beds and over 4,000 credentialed providers offering cardiovascular care, cancer care, orthopedics and sports medicine, neurosciences, women’s care and other health care services. CHI Franciscan’s mission focuses on creating healthier communities, including caring for the poor and underserved. In our 2017 fiscal year, the organization provided $188 million in community benefit, including $20 million in charity care. Follow CHI Franciscan on Facebook facebook.com/franciscanhealth, Twitter @FHSHealth and Instagram @franciscanhealth.