Catholic Charities Collaborates with SSM Health and Cardinal Community House on Respite Shelter



Cardinal Community House

OKLAHOMA CITY (DATE) – Cardinal Community House is pleased to announce the launch of a nonmedical respite shelter for individuals experiencing homelessness who have recently been discharged from hospitalization. The goal of the program is to provide a healing environment for individuals who are able to perform basic activities of daily living but who do not have access to a stable home environment where they can recuperate from an injury or illness.

“We take for granted how fortunate we are, in that we have a comfortable and safe space to recover after hospitalization, but there are many in our community who do not have that luxury,” said Kelli Ude, JD, Cardinal Community House executive director. “Homelessness can be very physically demanding. Individuals experiencing homelessness often travel by foot for places to eat, shelters to sleep, or places to get services or check their mail. They do this with their belongings in tow. When illness or injury strikes, the options are few and bleak. We try to alleviate that pressure by providing all meals, necessities and storage for their belongings while they focus on rest and recovery.”

Cardinal Community House began offering nonmedical respite in collaboration with Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City in March 2021 to serve a limited number of clients referred by the Oklahoma City-County Health Department.

This spring, SSM Health St. Anthony became the first health system to enter into a formal agreement with CCH to provide respite shelter for patients experiencing homelessness being discharged from its Oklahoma health ministries. The respite shelter agreement is part of SSM Health St. Anthony’s larger strategy to address homelessness in its 2022-2024 Community Health Improvement Plan.

“The hospital capacity challenges brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic have underscored the need for additional resources in our community to care for patients experiencing homelessness after they no longer require hospitalization,” said Tammy Powell, President, SSM Health St. Anthony Hospital. “Our organization was founded 150 years ago by Catholic Sisters famously dedicated to ‘turning no one away.’ Today, we endeavor to expand on that legacy by doing as much as possible for our most vulnerable neighbors, and we could not be more grateful for the opportunity to partner with Cardinal Community House and our long-time partners at Catholic Charities to achieve this.”

Staffed 24 hours per day, CCH is comprised of four dormitories with 40 private rooms serving adult men and women. To support long-term client success after recovery, the organization makes available a patient advocate, a case manager and a housing navigator. Among other services, these professionals help ensure clients make and keep follow-up medical appointments critical to long-term recovery, which is often a barrier for patients outside of a respite setting.

There are also on-site educational opportunities and therapy resources available for multiple topics, including alcohol and substance abuse. Additional amenities include but are not limited to three meals per day, clothing and hygiene offerings, transportation assistance, outdoor recreation space and more. The long-term vision is to one day offer medical respite with trained medical staff on-site, as well, Ude said.

“Cardinal Community House provides an environment not only for healing of the body but also of the soul,” said Patrick J. Raglow, executive director of Catholic Charities for central and western Oklahoma. “Serving individuals of all faiths and backgrounds, CCH upholds the same values we do, providing loving care to those in need with an emphasis on mercy, charity and justice. We encourage additional local health systems to consider this innovative resource for their unhoused patients in need of long-term recovery outside a hospital environment.”

CCH works directly with hospital staff to place eligible clients at their facility. Health care providers interested in nonmedical respite care for their patients experiencing homelessness are invited to contact CCH at (405) 232-0231.

About Catholic Charities

Guided by Catholic teaching, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City serves those in need, regardless of their faith, through transformative, empowering and dignity-affirming social service programs that seek to eliminate material, emotional and spiritual poverty across Central and Western Oklahoma. To learn more, call 405-523-3000, visit ccaokc.org, or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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