A refuge for the homeless in eastern Washington

In downtown Spokane, Wash., there is a beacon of hope and help for homeless women. Aptly named Hope House – this beacon provides a refuge for the poor and vulnerable. Run by Volunteers of America, Hope House provides 36 emergency shelter beds each night to women experiencing homelessness no matter their situation or lifestyle. Each woman receives personal care including nutritious food, a hot shower, clean, dry clothing, hygiene items, a warm bed, case management and support.

Providing medical respite

Among the beds at Hope House, a medical respite program provides a safe place to heal or recover from acute, post-acute or a flare of chronic health conditions. Providence Health Care funds six of the available seven respite beds with $148,000 in community benefit investment dollars.

At discharge from the hospital, the care teams identify women most in need of this medical respite. Women are provided shelter and other basic needs, crisis intervention, meaningful activity, such as art and life skills classes, social support and health care stabilization. During an average length of stay of 35 days, a community health worker helps the women identify housing, navigate the health field and find reliable transportation to health care. Providence visiting nurses attend to their medical care.

Most of the time, men and women on the streets are not connected to primary care and are high utilizers of the emergency department. In fact, the homeless population accesses emergency departments for care three times more often than the housed population. Accessing care from the emergency department is costly and does not provide individuals a long-term, coordinated solution. Together, Hope House and Providence help address these needs for women in Spokane.

Last year Spokane’s Hope House provided shelter and refuge to more than 350 women aged 18 and older.

A story of hope

Susan stayed in medical respite at Hope House for a couple months. During her stay, she developed a real passion for art; this passion helped keep her spirits high during the difficult process of finding housing. For the first time in a long while, Susan was able to prioritize her sobriety and at the end of her stay had accumulated over 120 days clean and sober.

Susan worked with the case management team at Hope House tirelessly and eventually found her home with Volunteers of America’s permanent supportive housing program. Hope House prepared Susan to live on her own through the leadership skills she developed while in the shelter, the art that she creates and the relationships she has made in the community because of her time at Hope House. Case management walked each step alongside Susan, from finding an apartment to her actual move. She is a great example of the recuperative nature of Hope House Respite.

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