Mary Washington Hospital decided again in 2015 to support for Micah’s Residential Recovery Program. The foundation has provided $130,000, which funds the primary staff positions that operate this program 24-7.

The Residential Recovery Program officially opened in partnership with Mary Washington Hospital in 2008 as a respite for homeless leaving the hospital in need of temporary or terminal care. It started as just two apartments, rented for the purpose of sheltering those who could not heal without a place to stay. It has since grown into an eight-bed group home, which is licensed through the state’s Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Services. It now offers on-site case management, round the clock supervision and access to a mental health outreach worker and a staff member who can assist with disability applications.

The program offered 92 stays in 2014 to people experiencing everything from mental health crisis to broken bones, respiratory infections and heart conditions. Sending patients to the program has proven benefits for both the patient and the medical/mental health system in Fredericksburg. Micah has seen the program impact the homeless community in the following ways:

  • Patients entering the Residential Recovery Program are more likely get the dedicated care and support necessary to succeed with a social security and Medicaid/Medicare application. This not only improves the individual’s opportunity for stability, but it increases the hospital’s chances of getting reimbursed.
  • Patients who are admitted to the Residential Recovery Program without a primary care physician, leave assigned to one.
  • Veterans staying in the program don’t leave the program without a place to live and access to benefits they had not been receiving before.
  • Individuals with substance abuse issues, who are ready to quit, are finding the Residential Recovery Program a good place to start over and transition to a longer-term program.
  • A stay at respite breaks the pattern, at least temporarily, of the most frequent ER visitors. At minimum, respite staff are able to observe “frequent flyer” behavior and identify its underlying cause.
  • Housing is a significant tool in restoring the health of the street population and diverting them from the emergency room and inpatient beds.
  • Homeless people don’t always use medical systems because they are sick. Sometimes it is because they want a place to stay; they are bored or they simply like the staff in the ER or at Snowden. These patterns can change if the individual’s true need is identified, and a new strategy that meets those needs is introduced.
  • Offering shelter and wrap-around support services to historically non-compliant individuals, changes their success rate.

An average night in Mary Washington Hospital, excluding newborns and psychiatric, is $1,471.28. The average homeless person in Fredericksburg can be put in permanent housing for $20 per night. And a bed at the Residential Recovery Program costs $99 per night. Given the number served in just the last few years and the outcomes Micah has witnessed, the program is showing itself to be better for patient care and an incredible cost savings for the medical and mental health community who refer into it.