Providing comprehensive and compassionate care for people experiencing homelessness with acute medical needs.
Describe the need affecting community
Individuals experiencing homelessness often face challenges in accessing medical care. One major challenge for these patients is care after a hospital stay. Often, patients experiencing homelessness are discharged from the hospital with no place to go and no access to follow up care, inevitably leading to more suffering and hospitalizations. How can they recuperate from serious illness on the street or in a shelter? Many shelters require patients to be out during the day, often in harsh temperatures and conditions. As the homeless population ages and is plagued by numerous chronic health problems, this has continued to be a major issue. The lack of a safe place to recuperate, with access to medical care, prevents patients from healing.
How will this Advance project help to address the need?
Christ House seeks to fill this gap in care, providing our patients a respite from homelessness and access to primary medical care and support services. We offer 24-hour medical care in a safe residential setting. Patients can rest, recuperate, and heal. We strive to care for each patient holistically, improving their health and helping them address the issues that led to their homelessness. Our approach begins with the medical team. All patients are assigned to a medical care team comprised of a lead medical practitioner, our regular nurse practitioner, and representatives from nursing, case management, and addictions recovery. The teams review each patient’s case weekly and plan a course of treatment and discharge. Our goal is to place the patient in the best possible next step toward permanent housing. We also provide an array of supportive services to promote total healing in body, mind, and spirit. Comprehensive case management ensures patients receive health insurance and other benefits and often assists with securing vital documents such as birth certificates and photo identification. The food services program provides three meals daily and is able to respond to our patients’ special dietary needs. Transportation is provided for patients to maintain follow-up appointments with their surgeons and other specialty care providers. Finally, we offer patients access to a wide array of activities to foster healing, community, and self-discovery. These include in-house activities such as movie nights, and outings in the larger community including trips to museums, concerts, and sporting events.
Describe the primary goal of the project
The overarching goal of the project, and of Christ House as a whole, is that patients will leave our program stabilized, with the tools and education necessary to manage their health needs. The further goal is that these improvements will allow them to live independently. We strive to heal patients in body, mind, and spirit, and to break the cycle of homelessness.
Describe the change you would like to see in the community as a result of this Advance project
When the founders of Christ House opened our doors over 35 years ago, they prayed that one day Christ House would be able to close. They hoped, as we still do, that homelessness would cease, and all would have a place to go when they were sick. Sadly, this has not been the case. While the city is making some strides in addressing chronic homelessness, the need for our services remains strong. Even if continued gains are made in placing homeless individuals in permanent housing, there will still be a need for the services that Christ House provides–stabilizing medical care in a safe and secure environment. We hope that through our work with patients in partnering with other agencies and groups in the city, that we can improve the overall continuum of care for individuals experiencing homelessness, and continue to work toward the overall goal of ending homelessness.