Coordinated Care Donation Kickstarts New Respite and Recovery Fund for Patients Experiencing Homelessness

We are very excited to report a new partnership with Coordinated Care. With their support, the Confluence Health Foundation has launched a new Respite and Recovery Fund for Patients Experiencing Homelessness.

On any given night, there are conservatively about 600 people experiencing homelessness in North Central Washington. Living on the streets can exacerbate chronic health issues and predispose individuals to a higher occurrence of acute injury and illness. In fact, those experiencing homelessness have emergency department admission rates that are three to four times higher than the average person. These patients also have a longer average length of stay. Once released, the circumstances associated with homelessness can make it difficult for patients to adhere to their post-discharge protocols, which can lead to medical complications and readmission to the hospital.

For the past three years, the Confluence Health Foundation has been leading a project that explores the causes and effects of healthcare overutilization among people experiencing homelessness in our local community. The focus of this work has been developing an understanding of how the Confluence Health Foundation, Confluence Health, and our community partners can better serve the unmet healthcare needs of patients experiencing homelessness. The goal of the project is to improve healthcare outcomes while reducing impacts on the resources and finances of our healthcare system associated with this patient population.

Coordinated Care and the Confluence Health Foundation connected following the Healthcare & Homelessness Symposium that took place in October. As a managed care organization with more than 200,000 members in Washington, they are committed to improving the health and wellbeing of the people they serve and playing their role in creating healthier, more vibrant communities. As part of this effort, they make commitments to charitable organizations like the Confluence Health Foundation to help address barriers to health.

Coordinated Care learned that one challenge facing Confluence Health has been the lack of resources available to support the safe transitions of care for patients experiencing homelessness. Unlike people with stable housing, patients experiencing homelessness often don’t have a place to recuperate when they are sick or injured. In some cases, patients remain in the hospital until they are in better condition; however, this method is expensive for insurance companies and Confluence Health, and it takes up valuable bed space that could be used for other patients that need it. Alternatively, if a patient is discharged too soon, it can be dangerous, and the likelihood that they are readmitted to the hospital in distress increases.

This November, Coordinated Care made a contribution that helped launch the Respite and Recovery Fund for Patients Experiencing Homelessness. The purpose of the fund is to provide a source of flexible funding that inpatient and outpatient case managers and healthcare administrators can use to address the unique and complex needs of patients experiencing homelessness after they are discharged from the hospital or clinic. Funds will be utilized to ensure that eligible patients have access to a safe place to recover as an alternative to being released back to the streets or remaining in the hospital longer than necessary. In addition, funds will help purchase items that are critical to their health needs upon discharge, like prescriptions, medical equipment, food, and other supportive services.

The Respite and Recovery Fund will be an extremely valuable resource for patients experiencing homelessness that have an illness or injury that prevents them from safely returning to the street. Access to a discretionary fund like this could mean the difference between recovery and readmission. Perhaps more importantly, this type of fund will improve our ability to treat these patients with dignity and compassionate in a time that they are feeling unwell, in pain, and vulnerable.

We are so grateful for the support of Coordinated Care. This donation will make a difference for our patients and North Central Washington.

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