Montana - A place to heal and get help with basic life needs

The Poverello Center in Missoula, Montana


Kaitlyn Bosshardt is a social worker at Healthcare for the Homeless Clinic, the satellite operated by Partnership Health Center at the Poverello Center. Here she meets with a new patient to identify needs.

Mary’s doctor referred her to the Poverello Center in Missoula, Montana, to recover after a cardiovascular procedure because she did not have a safe place to heal. In her 60s, Mary has a sweet smile, cares about others, and loves NFL football. Since 2010, she had been trying to secure Social Security disability benefits, but her application had been denied. Overwhelmed and discouraged by these denials, Mary had lost hope until the medical respite care coordinator at Poverello helped her obtain some needed documents. Her application was approved and the regular income enabled Mary to move closer to family and look for a place of her own.

The Poverello Center provides short-term emergency shelter, food, and supportive services to community members living in poverty, with a special focus on those experiencing homelessness. The facility provides a drug-free, compassionate environment that encourages positive change. In 2014, in collaboration with Providence St. Patrick Hospital, the center launched an expanded medical respite program to provide patients with a short-term place to rest and recover after discharge from the hospital.

“For many years medical respite at the Poverello Center consisted of daytime bed rest in a group dormitory. This was rarely adequate for recovery. The Poverello Center and Providence St. Patrick Hospital knew that we shared a small number of patients who were repeatedly hospitalized or making avoidable visits to the Emergency Department,” says Laura Folkwein, the Poverello Center’s development associate. “When we expanded the program to better serve these patients, we started to bridge the gap that existed between acute care and recovery. And, by providing additional social services we are also able to help patients help themselves and improve their lives."

Providence St. Patrick Hospital refers patients to Poverello for medical respite; in 2018, 53 patients were served. As the program has grown, each medical respite stay prevents about 10 hospital inpatient days, resulting in an estimated $874,500 in avoidable costs per year. The savings come in part by having a satellite clinic of Partnership Health Center, a federally-qualified health center, embedded at the center offering outpatient follow-up care.

“It’s really important to us that patients can heal and then find the ongoing care they need in the best setting,” says Merry Hutton, regional director for community health investment in the Washington and Montana area of Providence St. Joseph Health. “We knew that secure housing and respite care were areas of great need from our community health needs assessment. It made sense to partner with Poverello – which is already doing a very effective job of serving the unsheltered and unstably housed – and support their model with community benefit investments,” explains Hutton.

Powered by 9,000 hours of volunteer services annually, the Poverello Center works to meet a range of basic needs.  Services include nutritious meals to anyone in need, sack lunches, hygiene items, sleeping and shower facilities, laundry services, access to mail, and phones and, a computer lab, as well as 12-step meetings.

Learn more about the Poverello Center

Learn more about the Partnership Health Center


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