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Circle the City medical respite shelter opens in September to serve homeless in Phoenix

Tuesday, August 14, 2012
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Sister Adele O'Sullivan, a physician and founder of Circle the City, cares for a patient at a Phoenix clinic for people who are homeless.

Hospice of the Valley and Circle the City are celebrating the upcoming opening of a medical respite center for homeless people in Phoenix. The two organizations forged a partnership to create the center, resulting in a one-of-a-kind refuge for homeless people who are sick or injured with nowhere else to go.

HOV purchased the building for the 50-bed center at 333 W. Indian School Road and is leasing it to not-for-profit Circle the City. The organization staffs and operates the center, and HOV has access to a few beds for hospice patients needing respite. A public open house and ribbon cutting is planned 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Sept. 28.

"This changes the model," said Sister Adele O’Sullivan, a physician and founder of Circle the City. "With this service now available, it no longer is the standard that homeless sick people recover on the streets.

"I think that we as a community have stepped across a threshold with the opening of these doors," she said. "We now have set our sights higher in what we see as acceptable care for people who are ill and frail and homeless."

Circle the City has served the homeless population since 2008 and long dreamed of opening a medical respite center. But securing a building always proved a challenge. When the organization approached HOV about a partnership, that piece fell into place.

The medical respite center is open around the clock and staffed with medical professionals. Forty of the beds are used for male patients and eight are set aside for a secured women's unit. The center also houses a physical therapy suite, chapel and beauty shop.

While patients are at the center, staff will be working to help them find transitional or permanent housing so they have a place to go when they leave.

Like HOV, the community has rallied around the medical respite center. Supporters include the Virginia G. Piper Charitable Trust and BHHS Legacy Foundation, as well as local businesses and families.

Circle the City is recruiting volunteers to provide medical services and do jobs like give hair cuts, shop for and set up daily breakfasts, serve meals, help with laundry or organize recreational activities. For more information, call 602-776-9000.