Since April, East Middle School in Westminster has housed a temporary coronavirus medical respite center for the homeless, and its operator says the experience has reinforced the need for a more permanent respite center in Carroll County.
Since opening on April 13 and taking in their first patient on April 15, the respite center has seen 30 people, seven of them female, 23 male, with a median age of 51.
The center is planned to stay open through the end of July.
According to Tammy Black, executive director of Access Carroll, the respite center is not a shelter.
“A medical respite is a temporary safe place that allows homeless individuals the opportunity to rest recover and heal from illnesses, surgeries and other health issues when they have no other home, or any equipped shelter setting in which to go,” she said. “Anyone suspected of COVID-19 or a known positive will be placed in quarantine or isolation, and that is specific to our medical respite situation as an emergency stand up.
“So, the Carroll County emergency medical respite is available to offer a place to sleep, receive nutritious meals, have medical and home-based services, and receive intensive case management; and kind of biggest case management goal is housing.”
Black added that the respite center has helped her organization look at the needs of the homeless in the area and how it could get them into proper housing and ongoing, long-term case management services to ensure their success in staying housed.
The respite center at East Middle has taught them more about the need for a permanent respite center in the area, according to Black.
“This has been a great learning experience for us, completely unplanned of course, because we’ve been talking about a medical respite for more than three years now,” she said. “We would love to see something set up here in Westminster so that we can serve people that are facing homelessness and have an acute medical need or some other need; it could be behavioral health aide that we’re able to them get them into a place, stabilize them without have to go through unnecessary emergency services.”
Generally, the respite center accepts patients only through referrals, but, according to Black, if someone needs to be at the respite center, they should reach out to Access Carroll, Suite 200 at 10 Distillery Drive in Westminster. Access Carroll’s phone number is 410-871-1478.
“We’ve had some people just walk up and we’ve been able to serve them, but it’s only been one or two, and that’s the exception,” Black said. “We already kind of knew those folks, so it all worked out.”
Referrals usually come from the Carroll County Health Department, Human Services Program of Carroll County, Carroll Hospital or police.