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Respite Care for Homeless Receives Mother Xavier Ross Award

May 01, 2010
A collaborative initiative of three Santa Monica, Calif., area organizations to provide respite care for homeless persons discharged from hospital Emergency Departments is the 2010 recipient of the Mother Xavier Ross Award presented by the Sisters of Charity of Leavenworth Health System (SCLHS). Respite Care for the Homeless of Santa Monica began in January 2008 through the planning and collaboration of Saint John’s Health Center, an SCLHS Hospital; Venice Family Clinic, the largest free clinic in the United States; and OPCC, the largest homeless services provider in Santa Monica. As a result of the collaboration, homeless persons have had a place to recover when discharged from the Emergency Department (ED); they can receive outpatient services provided by Venice Clinic at the respite center; and they are consuming fewer resources on subsequent ED visits and have a decreased length of stay for inpatient care. “Our respectful and thorough attempts to meet the real needs of the homeless in Santa Monica,” said LaTisha Starbuck, Saint John Vice President Mission Integration, “are producing positive results.” OPCC has dedicated 10 respite beds to this program, and Venice Family Clinic provides on-site medical care. Saint John’s staff members discuss the respite program with patients who meet established criteria prior to their discharge from the emergency room; if the patient agrees to this option, the referral is made. Whereas traditional overnight shelters require that homeless individuals leave in the morning to live on the street during the day, the respite care program provides room and board to homeless persons discharged from the ED. In addition to on-site medical care, the guests also have access to a range of social services and housing assistance. “These types of efforts,” Tish said, “have been shown to improve quality of life and to prevent unnecessary, costly hospitalizations.” Since 2008, the program has housed 125 guests. Sixty-seven of those were patients in Saint John’s ED over the 12 months prior to their respite stay. Twenty-four of the respite guests have found long-term housing, and others are in transition with their housing arrangements. In announcing the award, Sister Judith Jackson, SCLHS Vice President Sponsorship, acknowledged that the respite care program reflects several Values of the Health System including Response to Need, Respect and Stewardship. “Beyond the local collaboration,” she added, “the three partners are participating at the national level to identify best practices and to improve the health of socially complex populations. This represents our Core Value of Excellence.”