Community Partnership to Offer Unhoused Individuals Safe Place to Recover Following Hospital Discharge

Last week, Drexel House, a program of Catholic Community Services of Western Washington, located in Olympia, opened two medical respite beds for people who are experiencing homelessness but are ready to be discharged from Providence St. Peter Hospital. This allows the patient to have a safe place to fully recover, with a goal of reducing readmissions and freeing up much-needed hospital beds.

Drexel House has 86 units of permanent supportive housing for men and women coming out of homelessness, along with an emergency shelter for 16 men. Residents are provided case management, referrals, transportation, and supportive services, with the goal of breaking the homelessness cycle. 

Funding for the project comes through the Western Washington Catholic Healthcare Collaboration, a partnership between the Archdiocese of Seattle, Catholic Community Services/Catholic Housing Services, PeaceHealth, Virginia Mason Franciscan Health, and Providence Swedish.

“We are so grateful and excited to offer beds at Drexel House, which helps us achieve our larger mission of serving others in need,” said Mike Curry, Agency Director, Catholic Community Services Southwest. “This powerful partnership not only benefits the hospital and the people in need of healing but is very valuable for our entire community.”

“This will create an additional resource for the hospital to discharge unhoused individuals in an appropriate recovery environment and give them the resources toward a pathway out of homelessness,” said Darin Goss, Chief Executive, Providence Swedish South Puget Sound. 

Traditionally, when an acute care hospital patient is ready for discharge, they return home, often with a discharge plan that calls for differing levels of follow-up care. A simple discharge plan is quickly complicated by homelessness. Without a safe place for recovery, patients often do not have adequate opportunity to heal, leading to readmission. Severe shelter bed shortages in Thurston County coupled with already high hospital occupancy compound an already overloaded system.

When a patient is discharged from the hospital to a medical respite bed at Drexel House, they will receive medical care from Providence Sound Home Care, with the goal of recovery and connection with a primary care provider to ensure ongoing health care treatment. The team from Drexel House will provide case management services to tend to the holistic needs of the individual, including permanent supportive housing. This partnership builds on previous work from August of 2021, when Providence Swedish, MultiCare Capital Medical Center, Thurston County Public Health and Social Services and Interfaith Works formed an alliance to provide medical respite beds as part of the Interfaith Works Restorative Experience for a Safer Transition (REST) program. Since the beginning of the REST program, nearly 100 patients have been discharged there from St. Peter Hospital, and the four beds dedicated to St. Peter patients have been continuously full.

“Community partnerships like these are how society’s toughest challenges are solved,” said Goss. “We look forward to this program helping us address the appropriate care for our vulnerable patients being discharged, as well as helping us with our hospital capacity constraints.”

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