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Christ House

Providing Healing and Hope for Washington's Homeless since 1985

Comprehensive health care for sick, homeless men and assistance in addressing critical issues to break the cycle of homelessness: 24-hour medical care, food services, addictions treatment and housing placement.

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Why should I support your work?

In addition to significant health needs, homeless individuals confront numerous health burdens and obstacles. Decreased access to health care results from a lack of income, a lack of health insurance, and an inability to navigate the health care system.

Hospitals treat homeless patients for emergencies and major surgery, but following treatment, patients are often discharged to the street or shelters where they cannot fully recuperate. Follow-up care occurs marginally and sporadically, if at all. Nationwide, if homeless patients are able to stay in a hospital, their length of stay is longer than the general population, often because of the lack of appropriate discharge options

Christ House is the only facility in Washington, DC that provides 24-hour medical respite care, case management, housing placement assistance, meals, transportation, shelter and other supportive services for sick, homeless men in a residential setting.

Why does your charity exist?

Relied on by D.C. hospitals and agencies providing social services to unhoused men, Christ House fills a critical gap in the health care system by providing patients who are homeless with the 24-hour care needed to manage health conditions in a safe and stable environment.

Medical respite programs studied in Connecticut and Florida were shown to reduce homeless patients' hospital length of stay by two days, subsequent emergency room visits by 45 percent, and inpatient visits by 35 percent.  These results not only demonstrate the avoidance of suffering and restoration of health for patients, but also translate to significant financial savings for hospitals.

Christ House plays a critical role in the continuum of care for homeless patients. In addition to 24-hour medical care in a residential setting, we also coordinate patients' outside medical care and provide an array of support services, including substance use treatment, to support patients in achieving healing and recovery.

What specifically do you do?

This mission is accomplished through providing medical care in a safe environment, offering radical hospitality that supports patients in their healing, empowering individuals on their path to stability, and creating a community that supports holistic healing.

The core of our services is the Medical Services Program. Patients receive 24-hour medical care provided by staff physicians, nurse practitioners, and a team of nurses, nurse assistants and other support staff.

Christ House also operates a transportation program and arranges outside patient travel, including coordinating with staff and volunteers to provide patient escorts to help patients navigate the health care system and their own treatment.

To help Christ House patients recover, case managers lead support groups, obtain legal documents and benefits, locate family members, and assist with placement in transitional or permanent housing upon discharge.

Case managers also refer patients to New Day, which is our in-house addictions recovery program. This 9-week program is led by a certified addictions counselor and gives patients the chance to initiate their recovery.

In addition to our primary medical program, Christ House also operates the Kairos Program, a permanent supportive housing community for former Christ House patients with chronic illnesses who are recovering from drug and alcohol addictions. Residences in the program are single apartments within walking distance of Christ House. The members of the program are capable of living independently, but are in need of support for their medical needs and addictions recovery. Kairos program members provide powerful examples of positive life change to our patients.

How is your work different from that of other, similar charities?

While other local organizations provide one or more of Christ House's services, no organization in DC provides our comprehensive services alongside round-the-clock nursing care and management of complex medical conditions. Christ House's services and involvement in the DC health care system continues to have a critical role in preserving and improving the continuum of health care for unhoused D.C. residents.

What have you accomplished?

Since opening in 1985, Christ House has had over 9,413 patient admissions. Our patients are treated for an array of illnesses and injuries including fractures, tuberculosis, foot or leg ulcers, HIV/AIDS, heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and cancer. In 2020, we provided 7,122 patient-days of care.

In 2020, 82 percent of our patients were African American, 65 percent were over the age of 55, and 7 percent were veterans of the armed forces. Over 54 percent had no income at time of admission.

How can I be sure you’ll use my money wisely?

Medical respite programs, like Christ House, are very cost effective for the larger community. Nationwide, hospital length of stay for homeless patients is longer than the general population, and one contributing factor is the lack of appropriate discharge options. These longer stays, and greater likelihood of readmission, raise costs for hospitals and the public. Medical respite programs have been shown to offset these expenses by providing an appropriate discharge location, thereby decreasing length of stay for homeless patients, and also by reducing readmissions. Our local hospital partners depend on Christ House as a place to discharge their sick, homeless patients, knowing that they will receive high-quality care that will prevent the need for costly readmissions.

Additionally, you may go to our website to view The Donor Bill of Rights (https://christhouse.org/donate/privacy/), which was created by the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy (AHP), the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), and the Giving Institute: Leading Consultants to Non-Profits. It has been endorsed by numerous organizations, including the Board of Directors of Christ House, Inc.