The annual Madison-area Urban Ministry (MUM) Partners for Change Luncheon on April 24 at the Concourse Hotel in downtown Madison was a chance for the community to come together to support the mission of MUM and to celebrate their 45 years in Madison. It was also time for a very special announcement – a $500,000 grant from CUNA Mutual Group Foundation which will be used for MUM’s new Healing House which will be the first medical recuperative facility in Wisconsin for homeless families.
“When I first heard about this [$500,000 grant], I was like, “Holy Moly!’ Even at the event and waiting for the official announcement I was still a little nervous. We’ve all been in the non-profit world long enough to know that things can happen. They could change their minds,” Madison-area Urban Ministry Executive Director Linda Ketcham tells Madison365, laughing. “But as soon as she said it, my heart starting racing.
“We are incredibly grateful and excited about this gift and CUNA Mutual Group Foundation’s transformational responses to the needs of our community,” Ketcham says. “This will inspire hope in our community.”
Right now, there are no recuperative care facilities for homeless families in Dane County. There is no safe place for them to go when a member of the family needs to prepare for a medical procedure, for example, or to recuperate after childbirth or hospitalization. That is all going to change. The Healing House will be the first in Wisconsin, according to the National Health Care for the Homeless Council Survey of Medical Respite Programs.
“Healing House will be a 24/7 recuperative facility. Some people call it a medical shelter, some people call it recuperative care,” Ketcham says. “It is a place where people being discharged from the hospital or are recuperating from surgery or have just given birth and are homeless can come and be someplace safe 24/7 and be fed and get support services.”
There are currently 64 medical respites in the United States. The cost per day to stay in a medical respite program is significantly less than the cost per day in a hospital.
“We anticipate the average length of stay to be 28 days. It may be less; it may be more,” Ketcham says. “While this will be the first medical recuperative facility in Wisconsin, it’ll be the first one in the country, as far as we know, that will be working specifically with families and children. The other 64 medical respites serve individual adults.”
The Healing House, which will be located on 303 Lathrop Street near UW-Madison campus, is expected to primarily serve homeless mothers and their newborns. It will also help homeless children who can’t receive a surgical procedure because they don’t have a stable place to recover.
“While we’ve been raising funds for this Healing House for at least two years, we’ve been working on this project since we identified it as a service gap to the County Board in 2012,” Ketcham says. “So this really is bringing to fruition a six-year project between planning and fundraising. So this is exciting.
“It puts us within a hair of where our goal is for operating and we will, by the time the renovations are done, be where we need to be,” she adds. “There have been a lot of contributors in a lot of ways and we are very grateful. It’s really been encouraging to see the community’s response.”
After renovation, Healing House is scheduled to officially open in October and will have eight beds and provide three meals a day, case management, transportation and other services as they help 48 to 60 patients annually. That capacity, Ketcham says, she is hoping to double within a year or two with a potential second site.
“Right now, everybody is getting discharged back out into the streets,” she says. “So even if we’re able to help just four to six families at a time to start, that’s four to six people who are getting healthier and stronger and getting into housing that weren’t able to do that before. We are very excited to move forward with this.”