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Offering homeless patients a gentler place to land after being discharged

Toronto, November 27, 2013

By Kayla Deverson

Kayla Deverson
Kayla Deverson, social worker in the Emergency Department

When patients are discharged from a hospital, most return home to rest and recuperate. Being a downtown inner city hospital, a fair number of the people we see in our Emergency Department are vulnerable and homeless, which means their only option is to return to the street after they’ve been discharged – not exactly an ideal situation in which for them to recover.

Opened in 2000, the Rotary Transition Centre at St. Michael’s Hospital is a bit of a sanctuary where marginalized, under-housed or homeless patients can go to eat a hot meal, clean their clothes, take a shower and have a safe place to rest after being discharged from our Emergency Department. The centre has two bedrooms, each with a set of bunk beds, a large wheelchair accessible bathroom, sofas and recliners, access to a telephone, laundry facilities and a donation closet that staff can go through to find needed clothing to give to our patients, be it a pair of dry socks or a warm winter coat.

Patients are allowed to spend up to 18 hours following their discharge from the Emergency Department to rest, recover and recuperate.

As the Emergency Department social worker, I help bridge the gap between the Emergency Department medical team, the Rotary Transition Centre staff and the needs and concerns of the patient after they’ve been discharged. Rotary staff members are available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to help with organizing safe discharge destinations and connecting patients with appropriate services and follow-up in the community.

We try to do what we can for everyone, so vulnerable individuals from the street can also knock on the transition centre’s door for a bit of compassion in the form of a take-away sandwich and juice, or some warm clothing.

The Rotary Transition Centre always welcomes donations of clean and gently-used clothing. Patients are often in need of coats, shirts and sweaters, pants, new undergarments and socks, hats, scarves and shoes. Feel free to drop off your donations at the centre, located on the first floor of the Shuter Wing at St. Michael’s Hospital! Our patients find great comfort in knowing that they can come to the Rotary Transition Centre and find the immediate support they need.

Read about Rotary International president Sakuji Tanaka’s visit this past April.

About St. Michael's Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in 27 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, care of the homeless and global health are among the hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Centre, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael's Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.