Post-hospital center for unhoused patients is opening in Denver

Colorado’s first center for people who could recover at home after a hospitalization — if they had homes — is opening next month.

The John Parvensky Recuperative Care Center will have 75 beds for people referred by hospitals because they have nowhere else to go, said Cathy Alderman, chief communications and public policy officer at the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless. The hope is that the patients will avoid being hospitalized again, and possibly move into more stable housing after their stay, she said during a tour of the site Thursday.

The $46.5 million project also includes permanent housing for 98 people, chosen because they’ve frequently been hospitalized or jailed. The nine-story building, with architecture resembling nearby apartment buildings, went up next door to the Stout Street Health Center, which provides primary care to the homeless community.

People who have limited mobility or need more supervision will stay in the medical “pods” on the second floor, Alderman said. The pods include six to eight beds for patients of the same gender, with curtains and partial walls offering some privacy.

“Those are probably going to be for people who need oxygen, who have severe injuries that restrict them to bed,” she said.

Once patients have recovered enough, they can move up a floor to the two-person rooms, where someone continues checking on them daily until they’re ready to leave, Alderman said. Housing counselors will also work with them to come up with a plan other than returning to a shelter or the street, she said.

Most of the patients will likely be eligible for Medicare or Medicaid, which should cover most of the medical services they’ll need, Alderman said. Several Denver hospitals are chipping in to cover food and other day-to-day expenses because they benefit from having somewhere safe to discharge patients, she said. Freeing up hospital beds has been a struggle during the pandemic, because nursing homes and home health agencies that would provide step-down care are short-staffed.

John Parvensky, the retiring CEO of the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless, said this project was the most complex in terms of funding and planning because there was no model for a recuperation center. It ultimately involved four government agencies and multiple private partners, as well as tax credits and donated funds, he said.

The original plan was to open the facility in June, but construction delays pushed back the timeline. The first permanent housing residents are scheduled to move in Oct. 17, with the medical units opening in November.

“Doing this any time’s not easy,” Parvensky said. “Doing this during the pandemic, with supply chain issues and workforce shortages, made it that much more challenging.”

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