3/16/2017 9:00:00 AM SETON HEALTH/INTERFAITH PARTNERSHIP Homeless people leaving hospital
now have a home while recovering
BY KATHLEEN LAMANNA STAFF WRITER
Seton Health/St. Mary's Hospital in Troy is now home to a new program to help people dealing with homelessness get back on their feet after a hospital stay.
On March 16, the Interfaith Partnership for the Homeless opened the Sister Mavis Jewell Medical Respite program at St. Mary's Hospital.
The IPH, a local group dedicated to finding shelter and other services for people struggling with homelessness, is renting 10 beds on one of the hospital's upper floors as a place for people who are homeless to stay while regaining their strength after being discharged from the hospital.
The site also includes a shower room, laundry room and common area for meals and relaxation.
Sister Mavis, a member of the Daughters of Charity of St. Vincent de Paul, has been called the "driving force" behind the effort.
Erin Coufal, communications manager for the IPH, told The Evangelist that the sister has been volunteering her time in addition to her position as a project management specialist for St. Peter's Hospital in Albany, to make sure the medical respite program came to fruition.
Sister Mavis said that, often, people who are homeless are unable to access the aftercare that is needed following a major hospital visit. It's hard for them to receive care from nurses or physical therapists, since home calls would be difficult and traveling to a facility could be physically taxing. Keeping up on one's medications is also an issue.
This usually results in the patient having to visit the hospital's emergency services again -- costing more money for the hospital, patient and insurance agencies. It could also result in further health issues.
"When you're ready for discharge from the hospital, you go home and your needs are met," Sister Mavis said. Homeless people "don't have that."
For now, guests of the program will be coming solely from Samaritan Hospital in Troy. Doctors at the hospital must recommend patients for admittance into the program. Guests will be able to stay for two to four weeks after their discharge date.
They will have access to a designated caseworker who will help them get aftercare and plan their next steps, whether that's a permanent shelter or alternative housing.
If a patient would simply like to return to the streets, that is their right, the organizers noted.
"It's a home, for a certain time, for those who don't have a home," Sister Mavis told The Evangelist.
The respite program was in the works for nearly a decade, Ms. Coufal said. Funding came from a number of sources, including the Alliance for Better Health Care and New York State's Delivery System Reform Incentive Payment program (DSRIP), which also administers Medicaid.
"This will just be another part of the continuing care for the homeless," Sister Mavis said.