Homeless and Sick: Medical Respite Centers Provide Lifesaving Care

After a hospital stay, most people want to go home to recover in the comfort of their own bed. But what happens when a patient is homeless and has no place to go?

This is where medical respite centers come in. Medical respite care programs provide short-term housing and medical care to people who are too sick or frail to recover from an illness or injury on the streets, but not sick enough to be hospitalized. And the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, passionate about improving health outcomes for homeless people, is opening a new medical respite center in Denver, Colorado.

“It can be very difficult for people who are homeless to manage their health because they are on the move or risk losing their prescriptions,” said Cathy Alderman, communications and public policy manager for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “They might give up or lose hope.”

Safe Places for Healing

When the Coalition’s new Stout Street Recovery Care Center opens in September 2022, it will be able to provide safe spaces to heal up to 75 people at a time.

Like most respite care centers, it will also connect patients to a wide range of services that can meet their long-term health and housing needs.

“With a place to recover from illness, people can retreat from the difficult nature of homelessness,” Alderman said. “They have a room. They have a fridge, medicine and food. They can settle down and start thinking about what a future with housing or healthy living might look like.

Kaiser Permanente will help support the day-to-day operations of the center with a $200,000 grant awarded in partnership with the National Institute for Medical Respite Care. Our grant is part of a larger effort to support medical respite care providers in all Kaiser Permanente markets.

“Addressing homelessness is about more than finding housing for those in need. It’s also about finding ways to support them in managing their health issues,” said Stephanie Ledesma, vice president of community health programs for Kaiser Permanente. “Granting out to programs like this offers hope and a pathway to better health for homeless people.”

Other Recent Community Health Grants

Our investment in respite programs is part of our work to improve the health of our communities.

Earlier in 2022, we committed nearly $5 million in grants to:

  • Educating middle and high school students across the United States about the risks of e-cigarette use and helping those who vape quit
  • Support further research and education on gun violence

Learn more about our commitment to community health and the range of programs that serve our communities, including Medicaid, charitable health coverage, medical financial assistance, and medical research.

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