August 18, 2022

Homeless and sick: Medical respite centers offer vital care

Working with our communities, we’re supporting centers that offer short-term care and housing for people experiencing homelessness and recovering from illness or injuries.

Kaiser Permanente invests in local and national organizations dedicated to finding solutions to the homelessness crisis.

After a hospital stay, most people want to go home to recover in the comfort of their own bed. But what happens when a patient is experiencing homelessness and doesn't have a home to go to?

That’s where medical respite centers come in. Medical respite care programs offer short-term housing and medical care for people who are too ill or frail to recover from an illness or injury on the streets but not ill enough to be in the hospital. And the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, passionate about improving health outcomes for unhoused people, is opening a new medical respite center in Denver, Colorado.

“It can be really difficult for people experiencing homelessness to manage their health because they’re moving around or they might lose their prescriptions,” said Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer for the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. “They might give up or lose hope.”

Safe places for healing

When the Coalition’s new Stout Street Recuperative Care Center opens in September 2022, it will be able to provide safe spaces to heal for up to 75 people at a time.

Like most respite care centers, it will also connect patients to a broad range of services that can support their long-term health and housing needs.

“With a place to recover from illnesses, people are able to pull back from the challenging nature of homelessness,” said Alderman. “They have a room. They have a refrigerator, medications, and food. They can stabilize and start to think about what a future with housing or healthy living might look like.”

Kaiser Permanente will help support the center’s daily operations with a $200,000 grant made in partnership with the National Institute for Medical Respite Care. Our grant is part of a larger effort to support medical respite providers across all Kaiser Permanente markets.

“Addressing homelessness is about more than finding housing for people in need. It’s also about finding ways to support them as they manage health conditions,” said Stephanie Ledesma, vice president of community health programs for Kaiser Permanente. “Providing grants to programs like this one offers hope and a pathway to improved health for people experiencing homelessness.”

Other recent community health grants

Our investment in medical respite programs is part of our work to improve the health of our communities.

Earlier in 2022, we committed close to $5 million in grant funding to:

  • Educate middle and high school students across the United States about the risks of e-cigarette use and help those who are vaping to quit
  • Support continued gun violence research and education

Learn more about our commitment to community health and the range of programs that serve our communities, including Medicaid, charitable health coverage, medical financial assistance, and medical research.