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Program assists ailing homeless

Interim services available for post-hospitalization care
By: Kristine Guerra Journal Correspondent
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Auburn homeless residents who have been hospitalized and discharged won’t have to camp out while recuperating, thanks to a new program. The Placer County Interim Care Program provides services to homeless patients after they are discharged from the hospital. Managed by The Effort, Inc., Sutter Auburn Faith Hospital and Sutter Roseville Medical Center in partnership with the Gathering Inn and Placer County, the program provides a place for homeless patients to recuperate for six weeks and directs them to community organizations that help with issues such as domestic violence, anger management, substance abuse and court justice. “We give them a safe, clean and dry place to recuperate so that they don’t need to worry about their illness,” said Suzi deFosset, executive director of the Gathering Inn, a Roseville-based homeless organization. “It’s difficult to take care of yourself when you’re camping out.” DeFosset said the services are given on a case-by-case basis. If possible, some of the guests, as they are called, are discharged into permanent housing, depending on their situation. “We have a case manager that sits down and talks to them and starts to identify obstacles and solutions to those obstacles so that they are able to leave the program with support,” deFosset said. “We also work with them to set them up for disability insurance and social security.” Auburn resident Steve Chase was enrolled into the program after being hospitalized and discharged from Sutter Memorial Hospital in Sacramento. Chase was hospitalized for the first time two months ago due to atrial fibrillation, or abnormal rhythm of the heart, and for the second time two weeks later for blood clots in his lungs. “It gave me a place where I can get my blood-thinner shots every day, three meals a day, a warm bed, a shower, and I get to do my laundry,” Chase said. “Being out and homeless, it would be very, very difficult (to recover).” Chase, who was homeless for three years, said he wasn’t able to keep his previous job as a concrete finisher when he got two DUIs. “I wrecked my truck and lost everything,” he said. “I just couldn’t go to work and I needed a vehicle to do that.” Chase said the program got him off the streets and away from alcohol. “On the streets, there’s a lot of peer pressure to drink,” he said. “That’s the biggest help for me.” Chase is one of 12 people enrolled in the program. DeFosset said none of them have been readmitted back to the hospital — some have returned to their families and others have gotten jobs. Chase now has his own room at the Gathering Inn and works there as a house parent, who’s in charge of making sure the rooms are prepared for the new guests. The program was based on an earlier Sacramento program and was launched earlier this year. DeFosset said Sutter Auburn Faith and Sutter Roseville hospitals give financial contributions to fund the program. “We’ve realized about a 75 percent return on Sutter’s initial investment,” deFosset said. “This is really about the benefits for the guests more than it is about anything else.” DeFosset said recuperating at the Gathering Inn is not only less expensive than staying at the hospital, but is also a better environment for recovering homeless patients. “It gives more self-actualization to the guest than staying in the hospital because they’re responsible for their own recovery, not nurses or doctors.” Chase said he plans to keep working at the Gathering Inn as long as the program runs. “After that, I’m not really sure. Getting better right now is my main goal,” he said. “It’s been a good program and it’s a free service.”