Medical respite is a response to a critical need for post-hospital care for homeless men and women, providing a safe and respectful place for people to recover from acute illnesses. Medical respite alleviates the problems of unsafe discharge that puts medically fragile people back on the streets. Medical respite also reduces hospital readmissions and helps move individuals from homelessness into permanent and suitable housing. Providing this place of love and healing is the right thing to do for vulnerable homeless men and women, and it’s the right thing to do for the community of Tucson.
CCS has conducted a community needs assessment in partnership with a 32-member Community Task Force, medical and shelter providers, veterans’ groups, insurance companies, and various Tucson neighborhoods. The results showed that an estimated 1,500 homeless adults need medical respite care in Tucson each year. In response to this need, CCS considered various medical respite models of care, engaged potential partners, and developed architectural building plans to provide a solution.
Tucson’s Medical Respite Center for Homeless Men and Women, a part of Catholic Community Services of Southern Arizona (CCS), will be the second of its kind in Arizona and one of only 92 medical respite centers for persons experiencing homelessness in the United States. The Center is designed to be a 15,000 square foot, 2-story building located near 22nd Street and Kino Parkway on the campus of our service partner, the El Rio Health Center. Other partners include the Veterans Administration, local hospitals and health plans, the Pima County Jail, Casa de la Luz Hospice, Primavera Foundation, Old Pueblo Community Services, Salvation Army, and home health providers.
While some homeless individuals may be able to recover with home health or health outreach services in shelter settings, studies show that an estimated 365 men and women with acute medical conditions each year are best served by a medical respite center stay of approximately 30 to 45 days. This amount of time allows for the healing and love so necessary for their recovery. Because of this length of stay, Tucson’s Respite Center will also be pet friendly. Research shows that patients recover faster when their pet companions can be a part of the recovery process. Other features of the Center include day rooms for patients, a serving kitchen, men’s and women’s dormitories, a chapel, and exam rooms.
The construction goal is $5.2 million. Support is being sought from individuals, foundations, hospitals and health care organizations, corporations, small businesses, various faith communities and all those interested in strengthening Tucson’s ability to serve the most vulnerable in our city. Tucson’s Medical Respite Center for Homeless Men and Women will be an extraordinary place of love and healing.