Below is the manuscript (unedited) of the speech I gave and offers a description of what these rooms will do and how they will bless the socially displaced coming out of hospitals or into eviction.
Dr. Walter Brueggemann once said, “Compassion constitutes a radical form of criticism, for it announces that the hurt is to be taken seriously, that the hurt is not to be accepted as normal and natural but is an abnormal and unacceptable condition for humanness.”¹
Today signifies a new day for 3e Restoration. Today is a day that 3e begins a new season of compassion inspired truth-telling—truth-telling about what is happening in our own locality concerning people living in homelessness, suffering from mental illness and living with intellectual disabilities. We will take every opportunity to tell the stories of our neighbors living through social displacement in the forms of homelessness, mental illness and intellectual disabilities. And where there are no opportunities we will create them.
Today is also a day that 3e Restoration begins a new season compassion inspired truth-embodiment—further embodying gracious hospitality by moving advocation to implementation to bring about the change our neighbors desperately need so that James City County can live in to the motto it proclaims where all our neighbors can find, “a great place to live, work and play.”
A great place for neighbors like my friend, and I will call him Jack, whose discharge from the hospital meant a ride to the local hotel, paid only for one day. Eleven days earlier, Jack had emergency surgery for an intestinal obstruction. He was critically ill in the intensive care unit. His problems grew worse when he was discharged with a list of community resources that he would have to navigate on his own, despite the fact he could barely find the strength to stand while also knowing that in one more night he would be back on the street. Four days after his hospital discharge he ended up back in the ER and was readmitted to the hospital for a surgical wound infection.²
I could tell you of the neighbors who showed up to our church building with hospital bracelets or in mental health hospital socks—all signs pointing to a discharge with no place to go. I could tell you of the neighbors who experienced evictions from apartments of houses they rent with no places to go. I could tell you of the neighbors who are living through something as critical as cancer and had no where to sleep but their car, but their ‘cases’ got tied up in the system from over technicalities and the nuances of policies. I could go on but I won’t. Instead I will celebrate that in God’s good grace people of faith came together to make what you see happen today. And it is only the beginning.
And just in case I am leaving with you the impression that this is only a challenge to our community, catch this.
A study from 2012 published in the Journal of General Internal Medicine found that 67 percent of homeless patients surveyed spent their first night after hospital discharge at a shelter. Worse, 11 percent spent their first night after discharge on the streets.³
Some might argue that it is not the hospital’s responsibility to solve the social problems of its patients, or that hospitals lack the resources as non-profits needed to address patients’ housing situation at discharge. However, ignoring the issue creates more expensive problems in the future. Yet, as patients living through homelessness leave the hospital, whether medical or mental health, are discharged with no place to go, a revolving door of costly, inefficient and dangerous care is created. They will move from the hospital to the streets or hotel and then back again.
People living through homelessness visit the emergency department and are hospitalized at rates up to 10 times higher than low-income-housed patients. Once in the hospital, homeless patients have longer stays and cost on average $2,500 more per hospitalization than housed patients.
Virginia ranks 31st in the nation in spending on mental health services and invests much lower money to fund community-based resources that help mental health patients safely transition back into society. Across the country, almost 30 percent of the money spent on mental health goes to state-operated hospitals. Community-based services generally get the majority of the remainder. In Virginia, 46 percent of mental health money goes to state hospitals, resulting in little more than half going to transitional services. Consequently for those living through homelessness and social displacement, they are much more likely to have no place to go upon discharge. We’ve seen it and we want to offer a better way.4
Discharging our neighbors with little regard to where they will go misses the compassion that originally provoked the creation of our world’s healing institutions. As a means of caring for those who were ill, St. Basil of Caesarea founded the first hospital (AD369). Christian hospitals grew apace, spreading throughout both the East and the West. By the mid-1500s there were 37,000 Benedictine monasteries alone that cared for the sick. There is no doubt that the Greeks and Romans made great contributions to early medicine, but as Albert Jonsen, University of Washington historian of medicine, maintains:
“the second great sweep of medical history begins at the end of the fourth century, with the founding of the first Christian hospital at Caesarea in Cappadocia, and concludes at the end of the fourteenth century, with medicine well ensconced in the universities and in the public life of the emerging nations of Europe.”
Hospitals of all kinds were meant to care for the vulnerable, the suffering and the hurting, one person at a time. They were meant to preserve the dignity and worth of each person, not treat them as cases to be managed. Restoration Place is our very meager attempt to fill a gap.
Today we celebrate two separate rooms have been remodeled and decorated with the comforts and familiarity of a one-room apartment offering a clean, safe, 24/7 emergency shelter. The Restoration Place will offer on-site access to emergency stabilization services. Guests will be provided with an on-site food pantry, as well as meals based on health-related dietary needs when necessary. Home health care services will be coordinated for guests discharged from hospitals.
The Restoration Place is provided for the express purpose of serving as a temporary shelter while staff work toward locating permanent housing and returning guests to holistic-sufficiency.
3e Restoration, Inc works with community partners through formal care coordination agreements to quickly establish medical and behavioral health care, while focusing on permanent housing options. Based upon the assessment, the guests will access the 3e Coaching Network of providers of services such as job training, legal aid, mental and physical health care. These providers include a variety of medical professionals. We will also provide on-site computers so the guests can apply for employment and have access to other possible resources to help them transition into a permanent housing situation and move closer to holistic sufficiency.
3e Restoration, Inc. works to equip, empower, and encourage the local faith community to walk with individuals and families as they transition from homeless to housed and holistic sufficiency. Part of the process is to establish a lasting network of friendship and support long after temporary rental assistance and care management has ended.
We give thanks and praise to the Lord and Lover of all lives, especially the vulnerable. And we thank you for joining us today.