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Richard is a kind, optimistic man who moved to Redding, CA from Northern Idaho in 2019 to build a healthier life for himself and his children. Richard had lost the lower half of his left leg in June 2016 after an attempted suicide. He first entered the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite Program in December 2020 with lesions on his residual limb from the friction of walking around amid Redding’s infamous summer heat. Unfortunately, sores of this nature are frequently recurrent and often become infected with excessive prosthetic use, improper fitting at the joint, and a lack of wound care.
Photo: Richard in the Sun
Richard said he was working with the social security office before but having an entire team advocating for his needs was invaluable. In his first four weeks off the street, Richard was able to sign up for Cal Fresh, apply for apartments, and begin his treatment at the methadone clinic. As someone who struggles with depression, Richard emphasized the importance of having frequent check-ups from the respite staff, which eased the feelings of isolation during his time in recuperative care.
After discharging from the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite Program in January 2020, Richard tried to make do with what he had. With his resources being limited, Richard was unable to keep the sores clean. Within a few weeks, Richard was again hospitalized with new infections which had spread to the bone. After a month in the hospital on antibiotics, Richard was readmitted to the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite program in March 2021 for continued care.
Renewed with an unyielding determination to avoid returning to a life of unstable housing, and inevitably repeating the same cycle, Richard returned with firm goals in mind and a strong will to get his life on track. From the day of his intake, Richard was fully engaged, working diligently with the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite Program Case Manager, Sarah Till, to complete the necessary forms for permanent housing, collect crucial documents like his California ID and birth certificate, and sign up for mental health services.
Richard said, “if I were out there, using and homeless, I never would have been able to get these things done”. Richard was even able to build a few positive relationships during his time in medical respite with others who provided positive influences and encouragement. In his down time between appointments, Richard studied positive thinking and how to manifest success. He explained that utilizing positive affirmations enabled him to push through hard times and believe in his ability to achieve his goals; it is not a matter of “if” but “when”.
After discharging from the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite Program, Richard transferred to SCHC's Whole Person Care for case management and transition into permanent housing. At that point in time, the last items on Richard’s to-do list were to order an electric wheelchair and be fitted for a new prosthetic leg, which he has now accomplished. This equipment allows him to travel through town safely and efficiently, streamlining daily tasks and promoting self-sufficiency. Hopefully, this will allow him to take better care of his body and prevent his leg wounds from reopening and re-infecting, further reinforcing his independent lifestyle.
Richard expressed gratitude to the Pathways to Housing team, SCHC, and volunteers in handling all requests “with swiftness and tact”. Richard also boasted about Dr. Kyle Patton and John Lord, RN at Shasta Community Health Center, affirming that they are “on top of it”. Despite feeling nervous about life after medical respite, Richard remains hopeful about the future. He says that, even though losing his leg was traumatic, he is thankful that he found this program when he did. Richard reports feeling more “clear headed” with a few months of sobriety under his belt and is optimistic about living a clean and healthy life.
Brandi is a hopeful, creative woman full of new-found life and determination. After six weeks in the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite Program, Brandi was able to recover from a series of illnesses, all while embarking on the road to recovery from drug addiction. Before admitting to medical respite, Brandi had been experiencing chest pain for a week, ultimately finding herself stuck behind a restaurant, too weak to even lift her head. After three days of deteriorating, someone finally called an ambulance for her. The hospital concluded she had pneumonia, a lung abscess, and fluid around her heart, all while suffering a heart attack.
Photo: Keychain by Brandi
Two chest tubes later, Brandi could finally breathe again, however, she was still in critical condition. After Brandi was released back onto the streets, Shasta Community Health Center’s Dr. Patton found her severely decompensating at her camp during one of his outreach expeditions. He knew she would not make it long without serious medical intervention in a safe and clean environment, so he advised her to enter medical respite while she regained her strength. She explained, “I was in so much pain that any time I woke up, I wished I could just get high and go back to sleep”. If the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite Program had not been available, Brandi would have continued shuffling between camps, further exacerbating her condition.
Brandi affirmed that her recovery in the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite Program was exponentially better than previous experiences she has had recuperating on the street. Initially, she was scared to death. However, once she learned to trust the SCHC and Pathways teams, something clicked, and Brandi flourished. She went from being isolated, sad, and afraid to someone who takes daily walks, chats up the neighbors, and wears a smile on her face. She occupied her free time by crafting handmade jewelry and even started selling it for extra income. Brandi was especially grateful to have the support of the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite Program Case Manager, Sarah Till, who kept her motivated to complete her paperwork and SSDI interviews through her withdrawal period. Brandi said, “I would have never gotten everything done if it was left up to me alone, given the state I was in.”
Brandi realized her medical conditions, along with drug addiction, were taking a toll on her body. She decided early on to take advantage of her time in medical respite and started addiction treatment right away. Once she began Suboxone therapy, she was able to gain a promising outlook in life and maintain her sobriety. At the end of her stay, Brandi was transferred to SCHC's Whole Person Care for additional case management and connection to housing. She reported feeling “nervous but excited,” for the next chapter in her life, “like a kid waiting for Christmas”. She was relieved to have secured a spot in a residential Drug and Alcohol Recovery Treatment program, despite the uncertainty of exactly where her placement will lead her. She declared that her time in the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite Program was amazing; her only regret being that she did not reach out for help sooner.
John is a spirited man on the verge of his golden years who says he is “coming back from being lost”. After separating from his wife two and a half years ago, John found himself without anywhere to go. When asked how that felt, John stated that he considered his circumstances to be a consequence of his own choices. When he first became homeless, he thought “I like hiking and camping, this will be fun.” However, John quickly came to realize that camping in a tent and living in one are two entirely different worlds. Not much time passed before he had lost sight of hope and succumbed to this new way of life. He eventually turned to heroine to ease his pain after his first year on the streets.
Photo: John, the Stoic
While dealing with an infection on his right index finger, John received plenty of sympathy at the camps. However, everyone had their own issues to deal with and no time or resources to spare to help him navigate life while keeping his wound clean. After a few trips to the hospital, it was determined that John had contracted an infection down to the bone. John was presented with two options: six-weeks of intravenous antibiotics or amputate the finger. Being the bold character he is, John decided to go with the latter and was back at his camp within a few days. All was going well until he crashed his bike and split his finger open upon impact. John had almost given up on doctors but was thankful when Shasta Community Health Center’s Dr. Patton was called out to the camp to conduct a medical assessment and quickly referred John for a stay with the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite program.
John was provided a clean place to heal as well as ongoing medical care and case management. It took John a while to acclimate to life indoors before he was able to let go of his “street attitude” and embrace truly living versus surviving. Eventually, he was able to see that change is not always bad; change can mean growth and growth is good. John believed that if it were not for the team giving him direction and goals to accomplish, he would have just waited out the for four weeks and went right back to where he was. A lot of people have a difficult time knowing where to go, who to talk to, or what forms to fill out. Having a case manager guide you through the process can make all the difference.
After watching the Pathways to Housing and Shasta Community Health Center teams show up for him time and time again, John decided to start showing up for himself too. He began Suboxone treatment during his respite stay and transferred to the Visions of the Cross drug and alcohol residential treatment program. When asked what he would like to share with future clients, John declared, “if they are lucky enough to have you come into their life, they better just be honest. If they want to change, I hope they realize they can trust you to lead them in the right direction.” Like many of our clients, John was thankful to have had support in starting his new life.
Tim is an outspoken veteran in his early sixties. In addition to his time in the army, he also spent 21 years as a professional painter and even gained experience as an equipment operator. He returned to California in December 2016 after 42 years. Tim wrote that he stayed with some lifelong friends of his when he returned but “things didn’t work out and ended up homeless”. Five years later, he is still adapting to the changes within his home state and trying to find a place to call home.
Photo: American Flags
Around April 2021, Tim noticed that he was having a hard time breathing and he was retaining water. He says he put on so much water weight, he “swelled up like a big balloon for about a month”. He did what he could on his own to fix his health issues, but it only got worse. When it became too much to handle, he called 911. The hospital prescribed him medications to help with his breathing and water retention. After a week in the hospital, he was feeling better and was released back to the streets.
The swelling resumed almost immediately and impaired him from being able to walk 10 feet. He even needed assistance rising from a seated position. Then, one day, Tim found himself stuck out in Redding’s blazing summer sun with no shade in sight. He had been jumped by a few “kids” who took all he had, even most of the clothes he was wearing. Nine hours later, burnt to a crisp, Tim was found by Shasta Community Health Center’s Dr. Patton and referred to the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite program.
Tim wrote, “thank God and everyone that has helped me”. He expressed appreciation for the motel rooms, food, medication management, transportation, and medical appointments. Tim was especially thankful for SCHC’s social worker, Sarah Till, who assisted him with obtaining a new CA ID and social security card as well as applying for Cal Fresh and Medi-Cal. Tim was able to lose the water weight and keep it off with the prescribed medications and lifestyle changes. He remains motivated to be more independent and follow through with everything he needs to do to stay healthy and acquire housing.
Tim is also adjusting to his recent sudden hearing loss. While in the SCHC HOPE Medical Respite program, he was able to meet with an audiologist and learned that he had total hearing loss in one ear and retained only 10% of his hearing in the other ear. Unfortunately, there were no signs that his hearing could be recovered. While the news was disheartening, Tim was able to order a set of hearing aids which should enable him to sense some background noises. Tim believes that adapting to his hearing loss is “going to be a learning process”. He is unsure whether he will ever truly adjust.
As someone with PTSD, Tim must rely on his senses to reassure himself of his surroundings. With one of those senses suddenly unavailable, his PTSD has been aggravated and he must find new ways to cope with the hypervigilance. He has been working Nation’s Finest, Redding’s premier Veteran’s Services Center, to build mindfulness techniques to help him recenter himself. Tim also tries to focus on the positives; he emphasized how the medical respite teams “let me know people still care & I’m alive!” He explained, “sometimes people need to know that someone else cares and will listen.”
Tim always appreciated the fact that Pathways to Housing’s Care Coordinator, Sara Martin, sought to make sure all his needs were met. He wrote, “everyone was on their A-game. If I needed anything I just had to ask, and they would do whatever they could to make it happen.” We understand that illness and injury can take a toll on one’s mental wellbeing. We strive to treat each patient with the utmost patience and respect so they may have the support they need to make a full recovery. Nothing makes a situation worse than when your efforts are met with misunderstanding or contempt.
We try to meet our patients wherever they are in their recovery and move at their pace to encourage patients’ autonomy and accountability. Tim’s advice for future patients is, “when you’re sick, get help, and do what your told by the ones trying to care for you.” Sometimes in life, we are faced with harsh or confusing changes. Although it may be difficult, it is important to follow the recommendations made by one’s provider to meet one’s health goals. By that same token, being kind and patient with oneself during times of change is equally important.
“Thank all of you for your time, understanding, your kindness, and compassion!” - Tim