A 62 year old male entered homeless services on March 2019. Shortly after his arrival, it came to staffs’ attention that the participant was struggling with significant substance use issues. Participant was subsequently screened for the SLO-HUB program and entered SLO-HUB in August 2019. Only a month later and through the concentrated efforts of the SLO-HUB integrated treatment team, the participant was housed – with the 70 NOW housing program in Atascadero. The participant has utilized the psychotherapy component within the SLO-HUB program and continues to fortify his social-emotional life-skills which have in turn provided space for him to thrive instead of merely survive. This same participant has remained clean and sober through several very difficult events that have occurred within the past two months. Additionally, this participant has become very active in the Alcoholics Anonymous program and has reignited his passion for music and performing arts. Finally, it is also important to acknowledge that this participant has actively begun a 501c3 in an effort to give back to his community and this in turn has also added to fortify his sense of purpose in his recovery and also his life, moving forward.
“Efrain” came to the Recuperative Care Program after a partial foot amputation as a result of uncontrolled diabetes. His recuperation period was only anticipated to be approximately 2 weeks. He and RCP staff were challenged by a very long, prolonged healing process due to multiple infections that occurred, despite many changes in medication and almost daily oversight by the CHC Clinic located on-site at 40 Prado. Unfortunately this was not the only thing standing in the way of his healing. Due to immigration status and medical ineligibility, there was very limited access to medical services. At first, he was unable to get basic, and very necessary, home health wound care services, diagnostic and imaging services, and covered medications to control his diabetes. Prior to his injury, he was able to pay for these services while he was working at a north county farm. Being unable to work due to his physical condition and ineligible for social services, Efrain ended up in a situation of homelessness with no support. During his stay in RCP, staff connected him to community resources such as the Noor Clinic and Catholic Charities, as well as generous doctors at Twin Cities. Along with CHC’s Homeless Grant, these programs were able to assist in meeting some of his needs.
Efrain was very passionate about following a proper diabetic diet and spent a lot of time reading and educating himself on his condition. He was dedicated to living the best lifestyle possible and did everything “by the book”. What motivated him the most was getting back to his job and home and “being able to dance again”. He was able to maintain a positive outlook even when things were not progressing the way they were supposed to.
Several months went by and his wound finally started to close. As soon as he was cleared to bear weight, he was up and out of his wheelchair, finding creative ways to provide his own type of physical therapy. Thanks to Caitlin May, the CHC Nurse Practitioner who located a very generous donor, he will also now be able to get a partial foot prosthesis. With his hard work and the support of RCP and many others in the community, Efrain will be leaving 40 Prado on December 20th to return home!
His “previous life” involved drugs, gang activity and several arrests, which ended up with him spending time in prison. Once in prison he turned his life around and came out determined to make some changes. He came to 40 Prado in February and was able to find an employer willing to see beyond his past. He let staff know that he was working and wanted to save and get housed but that it would probably be hard given his history. He was assigned to the 40 Prado case manager in April who helped him set up his savings account and maintain a realistic “pre-housed” budget. He diligently saved – often saving more than the agreed upon amount. Although several housing opportunities came up, he was turned down because of his history. His case manager kept telling him to “never give up”, even when he would often feel like throwing in the towel.
The case manager connected with the SSVF staff and let them know if a roommate housing opportunity ever came along to let her know – and in September staff called to tell her that they had found a 2-bedroom for one of their participants and that perhaps her client could be the roommate. Introductions were made and the landlord, who had a great relationship with SSVF, agreed to take a chance on him as long as there would be the continued support of the 40 Prado case manager, which was enthusiastically agreed upon. He was finally housed!
This female client originally came to the RCP (Recuperative Care Program) last spring. She had been living in her car for over one year since fleeing from a violent relationship. She was in need of hip surgery (on both hips) but due to her being morbidly obese, she was unable to safely have the surgery until she lost a great deal of weight. She was also severely depressed. Over the next 6 months she received counseling with the Community Counseling Center on-site Intern which greatly improved her depression. She began eating healthy and started attending swimming sessions at Sinsheimer pool. She worked with the RCP nurse and Medical Case Manager to prepare for gastric bypass surgery, which was a success. She increased her swimming and eventually lost the right amount of weight to qualify for hip surgery. She enrolled in Cuesta College and started on-line classes to complete her AA degree which she had begun years ago. She began to see a “light at the end of the tunnel” and is excited about her future. Just last week she received her back SSI and was able to not only purchase a used car but also set aside enough towards a shared apartment that she will move into in November. She has repeatedly said that without RCP she “wouldn’t have made it” and credits the staff for helping her to turn her life around. On October 2nd, she attended the City of SLO Community Needs Assessment hearing with staff and publicly praised the program. She said that she “never would have had the confidence to get up in front of a lot of people”, but “now I have a new life!”
40 Prado has seen a steadily growing number of seniors (over age 65) over the last 6 months. Most of these individuals have less than $1,000 in monthly income and are becoming increasingly frail.
In July, the CEO of the Atascadero Christian Home visited 40 Prado – she was so affected by the number of elderly participants and their stories that she committed to accepting 3 participants, regardless of their income! Over the next two weeks staff identified the most appropriate participants, took them to visit the Home, arranged for their medical clearances, and worked with them on making the shift from homeless to housed. Two women (one whose monthly income was $646 and the other whose income was $948) and one gentleman (whose income was $1,100) were housed by mid-August. They were so happy to have a safe, clean place to live with all their food and expenses taken care of. One of the women left 40 Prado crying tears of joy because she had become homeless after her husband died and she had no idea how she would survive. It’s these kinds of stories that warm the staff’s hearts!
When this participant entered the Recuperative Program, she had been living in her car, was a domestic violence survivor and had fallen on hard times. She had been hospitalized for severe anemia but her hip became the main focus of her recuperation. It had gotten so bad that she could not walk without tremendous pain. She needed a hip replacement but had to lower her weight to qualify for the surgery. She became very depressed, almost to the point where she would rarely leave her room. She mentioned to staff that she missed her church in Northern California so staff got in touch with the local group “Stephen’s Ministry”, that pairs volunteers from local faith-based organizations with clients, and a woman from a local church started to visit her regularly. The visits helped to lift her out of her depression and staff connected her with the local Y where she started swimming classes and began losing weight. Over several months, the weight started coming off and she began exploring weight loss surgery. On July 29th, 2019, she had successful weight loss surgery and was told that she could schedule a hip replacement in September!
This journey from living in her car to the promise of hip surgery has given her the determination to look forward to getting a job and creating the life she desires. She is a remarkable woman with the desire to change her life. Her daily commitment is an inspiration to all that know her.
In the week following her surgery, she has already lost 5 pounds and is tolerating the liquid diet. It is an absolute pleasure to interact with this participant and be a small part of her journey. She believes that the Recuperative Care Program “saved her life” and shows her gratitude every day with her smile!