Imagine you’re in the hospital. You received care and your doctors say you can go home. But what if you don’t have a home to go home to? For many of our country’s homeless, discharge from a hospital means a ride to a shelter or a return to the streets – a prospect that is both dangerous for patients and ultimately costly to the health care system.
In Phoenix, Arizona, Circle the City Medical Respite Center is changing the lives of the city’s most vulnerable residents by providing holistic, integrated health care and on-site supportive services for homeless men and women who either have been discharged from hospitals or who have been living on the streets with acute conditions. By offering a safe place to rest and recover, these individuals can achieve a more complete recovery and avoid the complications of chronic illness and injury that often send them back to the emergency room.
The Medical Respite Center is part of Circle the City, a nondenominational, homeless-focused health care organization founded by Sister Adele O’Sullivan, CSJ, MD, in 2008, after decades of work as a physician caring for the underserved. In 2011, Sister Adele forged a partnership with Hospice of the Valley to create Circle the City Medical Respite Center, a one-of-a-kind refuge for homeless people who are sick or injured with nowhere else to go. Prior to opening, Phoenix was the largest city in the country without a homeless-focused medical respite center.
“Each year, hundreds of people experiencing homelessness in our community have the opportunity to heal at Circle the City’s Medical Respite Center, where they receive health care, nursing support and even end-of-life care when needed,” said Brandon Clark, CEO of Circle the City. “Concurrently, each patient is also offered intensive social services to help them access food; health insurance; and, perhaps more importantly, housing before they are discharged. In fact, 78% of the people we’ve served since the Center’s inception have exited to living situations other than the street or an emergency shelter.”