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Columbus Opens Facility For Homeless Patients Recovering From Hospital Stays

A room inside Columbus' new homeless respite center.
Paige Pfleger
A room inside Columbus' new homeless respite center.

When people experiencing homelessness go to the hospital for an infection or a surgery, they often can’t be discharged because they don’t have a safe place to recover.

Jacqui Bastian, director of care management with Ohio Health's Grant Medical Center, says not having a place to safely heal lands people back to the emergency room again.

"We were seeing our re-admission rates go up in this population, and we were also seeing our length of stay be four times longer than someone who was not homeless," Bastian says. 

Ohio Health partnered with Lutheran Social Services to start what's currently the city's only respite care facility for the homeless population. It has 16 beds, plus wraparound services like substance use disorder treatment and employment and housing assistance.

Bastian says their goal is to help break the cycle of homelessness while saving money – an average night’s stay in the hospital costs $1,800, but drops to $200 at the respite care facility. 

"It’s the most appropriate place," Bastian says, "because patients who are in the hospital and don’t really need to be there, they can contract other things and get sick. So it’s just not the best place for you to be if you don’t need that level of care."

Bastian adds that the new center will free up hospital beds to meet demand caused by the spike in new COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations.

Correction: A previous version of this story incorrectly said the respite facility was the first in Columbus. The first was part of apilot programin 2016.