Pilot program launched to help homeless Rhode Islanders with medical needs

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WLNE) — A pilot program launched Monday to help homeless Rhode Islanders with medical needs.

“People experiencing homelessness with acute medical and behavioral health conditions have unique needs that often cannot and should not be managed while living on the street or in shelters that are not equipped to facilitate recovery,” said Gov. Dan McKee in part in a statement.

The program, Medical Respite Care, will be managed by Westbay Community Action along with the state and other community partners.

Medical Respite Care pilot will serve those who are homeless and “preparing for or recovering from medical procedures [or] hospitalization” or need a safe space to heal from a minor illness or injury.

McKee said that a person who’s “experiencing homelessness with a broken leg, or in need of wound care for a burn or other skin issue would be a potential client for this program.”

The program is located at the Hallworth House facility at 66 Benefit St. in Providence. It will start with an initial capacity of 20 beds and will expand to 30 beds depending on need and funding.

Those accepted into the Medical Respite Care pilot will have access to social supports and programs, behavioral healthcare resources, housing navigation support, and medication assisted treatment.

They will also have their own room, three meals a day, and cleaning and laundry service, according to McKee’s office.

Referrals will initially only be accepted through the Department of Health, Thundermist, Providence Community Health Centers, and Lifespan.

McKee’s office, citing Rhode Island’s Point-in-Time Count data, said that from 2021 to 2022, those who are unsheltered and chronically homeless increased 105%, and adults experiencing homelessness increased 35%.

The Medical Respite Care pilot will be extended in six-month increments, depending on funding and how well it does, McKee’s office said.

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