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Medical Respite helped Charles recover

I have gotten so comfortable here. There’s something about having your own place. I definitely don’t want to go, but I know someone else needs the spot.


When Charles was a 14-year-old boy living in Mississippi, a horse ran away with him, dragging his body behind. While Minnesota has been his home for nearly 30 years, pain takes him back to Mississippi daily. That horrific incident resulted in numerous injuries to Charles’ face and body, injuries which have long-lasting affects 50 years later.

Thanks to Catholic Charities’ Medical Respite program at Higher Ground Saint Paul and referring hospitals such as St. Joseph’s Hospital in downtown Saint Paul, Charles and others like him are recovering from injuries and making healthful gains. So far, the Medical Respite wing at Higher Ground Saint Paul has cared for nearly 350 people.

On a sunny early summer day with his wounds healing, Charles is all smiles when he talks about the care he received at both Higher Ground Saint Paul and across the street at St. Joseph’s Hospital.

In the Medical Respite wing at Higher Ground Saint Paul, patients concentrate on healing their body and resting in a safe environment while accessing medical care. The Medical Respite program provides nurse care coordination, medication assistance, and behavioral health services to support clients in stabilizing both their health and increasing self-management and health literacy skills.

“The people are good here,” Charles said. “I do appreciate it. Here, it feels more like I’m at home than in a shelter. People really care.”

Support, partnerships and determination

Because of your support, effective community partnerships and his own determination, Charles is doing so much better than he was a few months ago.
Last winter, Charles was suffering decreased mobility and increased pain in his left elbow. He had elbow replacement surgery in an effort to regain mobility and decrease pain. The surgery seemed to a be a success, at first.

When he left the hospital, Charles was given instructions on how to care for his wound as he recovered, but life circumstances made following those instructions almost impossible.

Unlike most who leave the hospital after a surgery, Charles did not have a family to help him out, didn’t have a sofa to camp out on for low-key afternoons of recovery. His wound care was made even tougher due to his failing vision. At the time, he was spending his nights sleeping in Higher Ground Saint Paul shelter. Charles, 64 has been experiencing homelessness since the end of last summer, when he lost his apartment in a Saint Paul high rise.

Being on the streets unfortunately resulted in his new elbow becoming severely infected, and he later was forced to check into St. Joseph’s Hospital for treatment of the infection. There, his injuries were treated, but hospital staff knew of his situation and referred him to the Medical Respite program at Catholic Charities’ Higher Ground.

“They were great; people really care over there, kinda like over here,” Charles said while sitting in the community room outside of the Medical Respite wing at Higher Ground Saint Paul. “I have gotten so comfortable here. There’s something about having your own place. I definitely don’t want to go, but I know someone else needs the spot.”

While Charles is back in the shelter, he was able to connect with other resources, including Catholic Charities’ Homeless Elders program, to help him find his next place to call home.

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