Gretchen Gore, Vice President of Mission Integration at St. Mary’s Medical Center, knows homelessness and healthcare are inseparable.
“When you don’t have a house you can’t get mail, you don’t have a stable place to store food,” said Gretchen. “It’s the first step to a lot of other issues that may lead to a chronic disease, which may land you at St. Mary's.”
HomewardBound of the Grand Valley serves homeless populations. They shelter hundreds of people who would otherwise be on the streets. After assessing community needs, St. Mary’s helped organize the shelter and the Pathways Family Wellness Center. This primary care medical clinic is the first of its type to be located within a U.S. homeless shelter.
Bill Wade, Chairman Emeritus of HomewardBound of the Grand Valley, shared how the Pathways Family Wellness Center helps those who don't seek services or only use the emergency department.
“It provides primary care for people in a place they can access without having to take a bus and wait in line,” said Bill.
The on-site location provides easy access for patients in need and allows them to build crucial provider relationships.
In addition to the Pathways Family Wellness Center, HomewardBound provides Recovery Living, an addiction support program. Jennifer Godwin, director of Recovery Living, administers daily healing. “I get to give encouragement, strength, and hope to other individuals, and be part of something that’s good,” she said.
Along with sitting on the board and providing medical care, St. Mary’s does all the shelter laundry.
“When you consider that we provided 53,000 bed nights in our last fiscal year, that’s a lot of sheets and blankets and pillowcases,” said Bill.
Gretchen emphasized the importance of listening and being involved with the community. St. Mary's mission is to improve the health of their community, especially the poor and vulnerable.
“Being a forever organization in this area is essential,” said Gretchen. “And I’m proud to dedicate my life to that mission.”