Respite home helps homeless patients too sick for shelters

Respite home helps homeless patients too sick for shelters
(Image: Hawaii News Now)
(Image: Hawaii News Now)

KALIHI (HawaiiNewsNow) - When Terry Lauro was discharged from the Queen's Medical Center, she needed somewhere to go to continue her care.

The Institute for Human Services placed her in its brand new respite home.

"It's a blessing to have it here, if not I would be homeless out on the street," said Lauro, who's being treated for an infection in her legs.

"In two weeks I lost 30 pounds. I went from 110. I was 80 pounds on surgery day," she said.

Lauro and seven other people are the first to stay in a Kalihi house that's run by IHS and Queen's. Tutu Bert's House is named after Roberta DuTeil, the wife of IHS's founder.

The guests are either homeless or would have been after getting discharged from the hospital.

"We really want to find them housing so that they're not going to be homeless any more and really help them move toward their next destination," said IHS Executive Director Connie Mitchell.

Lynne and Bryant Nelson are recovering from a car accident.

"We're able to be together. We don't have to be separated," Lynne Nelson said. Bryant added, "They actually went out of their way to make that happen."

Non-profit HomeAid Hawaii and several contractors renovated the two-story home. Clients don't pay to stay. IHS oversees the operation and Queen's provides skilled nursing.

"If I don't do my dress change every other day I can lose my legs or die," Lauro said.

Queen's estimates caring for discharged homeless in a home setting will save taxpayers more than $2 million annually in hospitalization costs. IHS hopes to help up to 80 people a year.

"When we think about the need for this kind of place, I am sure that there are more than 80 people that could use this kind of service." Mitchell said.

Lauro moved in two weeks ago. "This place opened up just in time," she said.

The Nelsons also had nowhere to go.

"We would have probably blew the little money that we have and then probably would have been homeless," Bryant Nelson said.

Clients can stay up to six weeks at the home, which accepted its first patients March 3.

Mitchell said now that word has gotten out, other hospitals are asking to place their discharged homeless patients at the Tutu Bert's.

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