News / London

London health-care community rallies for medical respite centre for the homeless

There’s a group of health professionals quietly lobbying for change in the London health system.

Dr. Jamie Harris of London Intercommunity Health Centre says over the past half-decade he’s been working away at hopefully acquiring a medical respite centre for the city.

These types of facilities, common in most medium to large North American cities, care for ill homeless people who have been recently discharged from hospital. Since these folks don’t have a home to receive follow-up homecare in, they often fall through the cracks and end up back in the hospital with intensified problems.

“It becomes pretty obvious after a while that we’re basically putting Band-Aids on gaping wounds,” Harris said.

The working group’s initiative hasn’t come to fruition, because someone needs to open their wallet, Harris says, adding there’s been “plenty of lip service” over the years, yet no firm action taken.

“We seem to be getting some traction at this point,” he said, “but nobody’s prepared to walk the walk yet.”

Abe Oudshoorn, an assistant professor of nursing at Western University, along with other members of the group, went to Hamilton last week to view its medical respite site.

He said there are three models to choose from for a medical respite centre. One is what Hamilton has — 15 beds in a Salvation Army, with no nursing. Other options: Adding a nursed medical respite unit into a local hospital, or propping up a standalone facility.

Oudshoorn says he’s is optimistic London will eventually receive monetary support for the respite centre, mainly since it’s a no-brainer from a financial standpoint.

“It will save the system significant money in terms of emergency use, readmission into hospital, and advanced level of car beds,” he said.

On a daily basis, Harris says he cares for people who would be certainly become clients at a local medical respite centre.

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