New homeless facility that long sat idle will soon house medical respite beds
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - In a major development, the city says it’s on track to open a medical respite facility for the homeless in early June inside an Iwilei housing project that’s been sitting empty for more than a year.
The medical respite facility will provide around the clock, in-patient medical services for homeless people who need care but aren’t sick enough to stay at the hospital, allowing hospitals to free up beds for people who need them.
The project marks the first time the $17 million Homeless Resource Center will be used for its intended purpose.
On Thursday morning, staff were busy at work at the center, arranging and sanitizing newly donated hospital beds.
“We’re going to take men and women. We’ll have some partitions up for privacy,” said Honolulu Emergency Services Director Jim Ireland.
Workers with the city’s Crisis Outreach Response and Engagement Program have three weeks to transform the first floor of this facility into a safe place for up to 25 sick people who otherwise have no where to go.
“This space here is to get people off the streets who have debilitating medical problems,” Ireland said.
“Mild mental illness, wounds, amputations, demenita. Not sick enough for the hospital, but way too sick to stay on the streets or in the shelter.”
CORE EMT Julianne Fajotina has seen the conditions many homeless people are living in first hand.
“It’s dirty out there. It’s rough (on the street),” she said.
Over the past year, responded to hundreds of calls. Often times, it’s for the same people. “It’s hard getting better on the street because it’s not an ideal place for sanitary reasons. It’s hard to find clean water, soap,” said Fajotina.
Officials say the folks who are brought in can stay up to 90 days.
In addition to receiving medical treatment, case workers will be on hand to find patients permanent housing.
And for the first time, they’ll be working with insurance companies in particular Medicaid to do it.
“It really benefits insurers. For them it’s not good business to have your patient going to the ER everyday. And that’s thousands and thousand of dollars in charges,” Ireland said. That high level of collaboration is going to lead us to a higher success rate, getting people off the sidewalks (and) off the street.”
If the project is a success, officials say they want to try and duplicate it in other parts of Oahu.
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