Medical Respite Program Now Available

November 2, 2016

Coming Together to Help the Homeless

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Respite House Grand Opening

Filling the gaps in health care for the homeless is the primary goal of a new medical respite program, one of several new services offered through the Veterans Housing Outreach and Assistive Services facility recently opened at the Three Oaks Center in Lexington Park. Patterned after Baltimore City’s Health Care for the Homeless program, St. Mary’s County is only the second location in the state to offer such a service.

“Due to the affluence of our county, the problems of our homeless are often not as visible,” said Lori Werrell, director of Health Connections, the community outreach program of MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital. “This program will help us address the issues faced by the homeless and the homeless veterans in our area.”

The multi-bed facility will offer individuals a place to recuperate from acute illness or surgery after being discharged from the hospital. Unlike most homeless shelters which only provide overnight accommodations, the medical respite program offers 24-hour access to a bed during a person’s prescribed recovery time.

In addition, the program connects discharged homeless patients with Care Coordinators from MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, who will follow their recovery, help them find primary care, schedule and set up appointments and coordinate services with a Neighborhood Wellness Advocate who can help arrange transportation to appointments or other needed services. The facility also gives the person a physical address where they can receive services such as visits from a Home Health nurse.

The program is a joint effort between the Three Oaks Center, MedStar St. Mary’s Hospital, St. Mary’s County Office on Aging, St. Mary’s County Health Department, Walden Behavioral Health, Pathways, Maryland Department of Health and Human Services and the St. Mary’s County Housing Authority.

“One of the primary goals of the program is to help stabilize these individuals’ lives by connecting them to services and benefits, which eventually may move them out of homelessness,” said Lori. “The hope is to transition these individuals to permanent housing and a better quality of life.”

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