Friday, April 6, 2018 12:00 AM

Community benefit provides respite from the streets

Community Medical Centers’ home health nurse Denita Goodwin heads out on her rounds.

Community Medical Centers’ home health nurse Denita Goodwin heads out on her rounds. Her first stop is the Fresno Rescue Mission to check on 62-year-old Pablo Avalos whose unmanaged diabetes and a festering would on his foot landed him in the hospital this winter.
Avalos didn’t have a home or family to take over his care when he was ready to leave, so he was discharged here to the Medical Respite Center created by Community in partnership with other hospitals. The Respite Center, which is staffed by Community Regional Medical Center’s home health clinical staff and case management, provides beds for homeless men and women who need a safe place to continue recovering after their hospital stay. Homeless patients tend to stay 4.5 days longer in the hospital without social support to see them through the healing process.
Most days on her job, Goodwin visits patients at the Fresno Rescue Mission. It’s challenging but gratifying work, she says.
“If they’re out in the elements they might end up in the hospital again,” she said. “It just makes you feel good to put in time and have patients here accept the teaching and help.”
This visit, she was pleased to see Avalos had his blood sugar under control and was making steady progress in healing his diabetic foot ulcer. He was able to walk into the makeshift exam room on his own. The quiet Avalos smiled and nodded understandingly as Goodwin showed him his blood sugar readings.
In a nearby room, Alberto Madera was recovering from a car crash. Community speech pathologist Lacey Smith and home health nurse Tuswana Ellsberry were assessing his neuro functions since he suffered a severe head injury in the crash. He was improving enough to crack jokes with them.

Community’s staff provides care to patients discharged from any local hospital and links them to social and community resources. Last year, the hospital contributed $50,000 to the Medical Respite Center collaborative effort, which provided continuing care to 180 patients, keeping them out of the hospital nearly 1,200 days. Since it opened in 2011, Community has contributed $350,000 in community benefit funds to the Respite Center.