Interfaith Works, MultiCare Capital Medical Center, Providence St. Peter Hospital, and Thurston County Public Health and Social Services are partnering to provide people experiencing homelessness a safe place to fully recover after they are discharged from the hospital, with the goal of reducing readmissions and freeing up much-needed hospital beds, the organizations announced today.
The Interfaith Works Restorative Experience for a Safer Transition (REST) program will provide beds for discharged patients meeting certain criteria, giving them a safe place to recover, and coordinating social service support, hygiene services, and meals during their stay.
Providence St. Peter and MultiCare Capital Medical Center have committed to a six-month pilot project, with Providence sponsoring four beds and Capital sponsoring two beds, with a goal of adding more in the future. These six beds are expected to benefit as many as 50 people over the course of six months and free up much-needed hospital beds.
“This partnership is the culmination of years of work and relationship building between health care and homeless service providers in our region. I am thrilled because our systems need to support each other and, most importantly, medically fragile members of our community deserve time to heal,” said Meg Martin, Executive Director, Interfaith Works.
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.
“Community partnerships like these are how society’s toughest challenges are solved,” said Darin Goss, Chief Executive, Providence Southwest Washington. “We, along with MultiCare, are looking 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.”
“We’re committed to partnering with our community for healing and a healthy future, including when a patient is discharged from our hospital,” said Will Callicoat, President, Capital Medical Center & Thurston County Market Leader. “I had a family member who was homeless for periods of his life and was cared for at both local hospitals. I can attest to the challenges that occur — both personally and those placed on society — when the patient is homeless.”
The REST program is designed for patients being released from the hospital after being treated for an acute medical condition, including flare ups of chronic conditions who cannot safely return to a congregate shelter setting. Stays are limited to 30 days and no on-site medical care is provided, but the program will support and coordinate outside visiting health care and caregiving providers. To participate, released patients must have no active infections; not be in active medical withdrawal from alcohol or prescription or illicit drugs; and must be medically stable.
Funding for the six-month, $142,220 pilot project was also a team effort. Thurston County plans to utilize non-congregate care shelter funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) COVID-19 public assistance grant program, in addition to funding from Providence Southwest Washington Foundation and MultiCare.
“The partnership between Providence, MultiCare and Interfaith Works represents the best of our community,” said Schelli Slaughter, Director of Thurston County Public Health and Social Services. “The county is proud to play a part in this vital effort to ensure that people experiencing homelessness who need respite care while they heal, have a safe and supportive place to do so during this public health emergency.”
“This program is our foundation’s Fund-a-Need focus for this year,” said Peter Brennan, Chief Philanthropy Officer, Providence Southwest Washington Foundation. “Our involvement wouldn’t be possible without community support for the foundation through events like Christmas in the Forest and other donations. And the project would not have been possible without Thurston County’s efforts to secure FEMA funding.”
The program has successfully welcomed its first six guests and will continue serving released patients throughout the end of the year at minimum.
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