Community Health Net Begins 3-Year Process to Develop Local Medical Respite for the Homeless

Erie, Pa. – December 17, 2020 – Community Health Net, the leading Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) serving the Lake Erie region, announced that it was accepted into a special initiative of the National Institute for Medical Respite Care. The 3-year learning collaborative process will result in a medical respite program for the Lake Erie region’s homeless population.

“We see this prestigious opportunity as a way to develop a much needed, strong and sustainable respite program for our community,” said Kathy Howard, Director of Operations, Community Health Net. The organization was accepted into the special initiative, called the National Health Care for the Homeless Medical Respite New Start Initiative, after a rigorous application process. Few organizations were invited. “This effort will provide a clear path for members of the homeless community to receive lifesaving care.”

Medical respite care is acute and post-acute medical care for people experiencing homelessness who are too ill or frail to recover from a physical illness or injury on the streets but are not sick enough to be in a hospital. These programs provide short-term residential services (often in a shelter or transitional program) coupled with support services and medical care access.

“This is a great opportunity to serve our community in a greater capacity,” said Sherrai Holland, Homeless Program Coordinator.  Medical respite programs are uniquely positioned to coordinate care for a complex population of patients who may otherwise face barriers to navigate and engage in support systems adequately.  It provides participants the opportunity to access medical and supportive services needed to assist their recuperation. “We look forward to learning how to develop the framework necessary to become a center of excellence for medical services to our homeless community.”

Respites for the homeless differs from “caregiver respite,” skilled nursing facilities, nursing homes, assisted living facilities, hospice care, and supportive housing programs.  Many programs exist as partnerships between two or more organizations that provide services that have a unique opportunity to influence the long-term health and quality of life outcomes for individuals experiencing homelessness.

“The result of this initiative will help us to build upon our strategic goal, to develop systems that will have a transformational impact on the region’s health care indicators,” said Craig Ulmer, CEO of Community Health Net. Characteristics of Medical Respite Care closes the gap between hospitals/emergency rooms and homeless shelters that do not have the capacity to provide medical and support services and provide a low-cost, high-quality, and innovative discharge option to aid emergency room diversion and hospital discharge options. “Primarily, this opportunity will help us to fulfill our mission, to improve the quality of life in our region, by providing professional healthcare services, with compassion, respect, and dignity to all.”

The media is invited to contact Community Heath Net for comment. 814.454.4530 x227


About Community Health Net
Community Health Net is the preeminent, community-focused healthcare network that advances the wellness of the region.  Our mission is to improve the quality of life in our region by providing professional healthcare services, with compassion, respect, and dignity to all. We are a Federally Qualified Health Center with seven locations serving the Lake Erie region for over 35 years.



Community Health Net

Mary Lynn Slivinski

Director of Administrative Services

814.454.4530 x227

phone number