It’s hard to imagine being discharged from a hospital with nowhere to go. Our local social safety net for people who are homeless is fragile under the best of conditions, but grossly inadequate during the pandemic.
For that reason, I was heartened to learn that St. Vincent de Paul’s Dusk to Dawn program now has five pallet shelters reserved for unhoused people who have been discharged from PeaceHealth. Research shows that post hospital care for the unhoused reduces the possibility of readmissions to the hospital. The local nonprofit ShelterCare recognized this gaping hole in the health care continuum in 2013, and ever since has been providing post hospital care to people who are medically fragile and unhoused.
ShelterCare’s Medical Recuperation program, located in a repurposed hotel in west Eugene, provides a warm room, three meals a day, medication monitoring, transportation and case management to help clients heal and later transition to more permanent housing. Ten single-use rooms (19 prior to the pandemic), which have showers and toilets, small sitting areas and microwaves and refrigerators, are usually filled to capacity.
The value of such programs can’t be overstated, particularly during the winter months in a pandemic. As Margaret Mead reminds us, helping someone else through difficulty is where civilization starts.