Loveland offering housing for medical recovery to those experiencing homelessness
When Loveland resident Michael Schaible knew he needed a colonoscopy done, he wasn’t sure how he was going to be able to safely prepare and recover afterward without a place to call home because, at the time, he was homeless.
But, with the help of the local Salvation Army, Schaible was able to stay in a motel to prepare, for free.
The Salvation Army of Loveland began its Respite Hotel Voucher Program in 2019, to help the homeless population in Northern Colorado by ensuring they have a safe place to prepare for and recover following medical procedures.
“We have been seeing … and we were hearing a lot from people that they were in the hospital or had to have a surgery, they could not proceed with recovery because normally people would go and recover at home, but people experiencing homelessness do not have such an ability,” said Olga Duvall, Loveland Salvation Army service center coordinator. “They would be discharged back into the street.”
Linda Franklin, a member of the advisory board for the Salvation Army of Loveland, said when she moved here she searched for an existing program like the one in place now and found nothing. Like Duvall, she said they were hearing from people who came out of the hospital following injury without anywhere to go.
“We would get people coming in just having been discharged from the hospital or recovering from an injury … and they were immediately back on the street,” she said.
Through the program, hospitals in the area can reach out to the Salvation Army with potential program candidates; those individuals are then offered free hotel vouchers for up to two weeks.
To further help those in need, the Salvation Army also works with the Community Kitchen and Meals on Wheels to offer hot meals to clients while they’re recovering, as well as transportation to and from needed follow-up medical appointments.
In 2020 alone the program provided more than 700 nights of respite care to those needing to safely recover.
For Schaible, who now volunteers at 137 Connection in Loveland, the program provided him a way to safely prepare for his colonoscopy.
“That helped a lot,” he said. “It was either that or sleep on the floor. I got a nice comfortable bed where I could relax.”
He added that the program is important to provide so that everyone in the community can have access to needed medical attention and prepare and heal safely.
“If you have to go in for surgery you need somewhere nice to stay,” Schaible said.
Franklin said she believes that the program is nothing short of life-altering.
“I think without that we are not giving them the right tools to get back on their feet,” she said. “It is just basic humanity, that we need to take care of each other regardless of our circumstances. We all have the same needs and some of us are more fortunate than others. To reach out and help those in need is what we should all be about.”
Duvall said the pandemic highlighted the importance of helping those in need recover following medical concerns, offering program participants a chance to get back on their feet.
She added that many who have gone through the program have had the chance to heal properly, return to work and obtain safe and stable housing. This, she said, is the ultimate success.
“The importance of this program is just to provide a possibility, a chance for a person to recover from some unforeseen medical trauma or illness,” Duvall said. “Every person should have the ability … It is a basic human need to be able to take care of your health and recover and get healthy again. When you are on the street with no roof over your head facing the heat or extreme cold, it doesn’t allow you to recover. It almost puts you in the situation where you can’t survive, let alone recover.”