What happens to the homeless when they are discharged from the hospital after a medical emergency? Oftentimes, they wind up back on the street and their recovery is put at great risk. But one local nonprofit is working hard to keep medically fragile homeless people from going back to the emergency room.
Less than two years after the doors first opened at Circle the City Medical Respite Center, nearly 300 homeless patients have been treated, and 85 percent of them have been moved into transitional housing.
Circle the City is a nonprofit organization that provides for the unmet needs of homeless individuals during times of illness. Incorporated in 2008, the organization is dedicated to assisting with financial resources that make health care services possible where no other resources exist, and by providing basic necessities to help ease the burdens of homelessness.
Housed in a former security company building near 3rd Avenue and Indian School Road, the 16,800-square-foot, 50-bed medical facility gives hospitals a place to safely discharge homeless adult patients who need supervised medical care during their recovery period. Patients also are referred from shelters and other community service organizations. Funding for the center primarily comes from the hospitals, private donations and grants.
The Bob & Renee Parsons Foundation recently awarded a $250,000 grant to Circle the City. “We are grateful for the compassionate gift from Bob and Renee Parsons which will help men and women recover from illness and discover a better life,” said Circle the City’s founder, president and medical director, Sister Adele O’Sullivan, C.S.J., M.D. “Their generosity is helping us serve the homeless population in the greater Phoenix area, and fill a critical need within our Valley’s healthcare landscape.”
For many, Circle the City is the first step on the path to healthy, independent living. Patients are surrounded by a wide variety of services aimed at healing each patient medically, emotionally and spiritually. This holistic approach gives each individual patient the best possible chance to not only heal from his or her illness or injury, but break the cycle of homelessness entirely.
The center provides on-site psychologists and physical therapists, as well as social workers to help find transitional housing, apply for benefits if available, and connect transitioning patients to employment resources. A typical stay is expected to be no more than six weeks, with the goal of getting them healthy and finding them safe housing when they are ready to leave.
Community volunteers surround respite center patients with engaging activities such as art therapy, chair yoga and group outings to local museums and sporting events. This community re-integration has proved to be as important to the healing process as the medications administered through the clinic.
As a nonprofit organization, Circle the City looks to community members and business partners to help with some of the center’s non-medical needs. While cash donations are always appreciated, other ways members of the community can help include volunteering in areas such as laundry services, translation services, recreational activities, food service, beautician/barber services (a small salon is located in the center), and more. Donations of hygiene kits—toothbrushes, toothpaste, bar soap, shampoo, deodorant, etc.—and new underwear, socks, sweatpants and sweatshirts in all sizes for men and women also are needed.
To learn more about the center and ways to help, call 602-776-9000 or visit www.circlethecity.org.