Medical respite care, also referred to as recuperative care, is provided to people experiencing homelessness who are not sick enough to stay in the hospital, but are too sick to return to a shelter or the streets given their health needs. Medical respite programs are intended to be a safe option for people to receive ongoing care and supports, and provide an alternative to extended hospital stays. Medical respite sites have played a critical role in supporting individuals who are homeless as well as hospitals experiencing a surge in capacity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

This webinar, coordinated by the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) and the National Institute for Medical Respite Care (NIMRC) and made possible through support from the California Health Care Foundation (CHCF), highlighted the experiences and innovations of three medical respite centers in California and Washington State during COVID-19.  Presenters provided an overview of programs and share how their medical respite center responded to COVID-19, including changes to structures, processes, and partners, as well as lessons for how to improve their services for people experiencing homelessness.


I. Welcome and Introduction

Speakers: Kathy Moses, MPH, Senior Fellow, CHCS; Michelle Schneidermann, MD, Director, High-Value Care, CHCF

K. Moses welcomed participants, introduce the speakers, and provide a brief overview of the webinar. M. Schneidermann described CHCF’s role and interest in homelessness and health care, specifically on the value and opportunities around medical respite care.

II. Overview: Medical Respite Care for People Experiencing Homelessness

Speaker: Julia Dobbins, MSW, Director of Programs & Services, NIMRC

J. Dobbins provided an overview of the role that medical respite care plays in the health care of people experiencing homelessness, share a national perspective of the work that is being done across the country, and describe how medical respite centers have adapted their work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

III. Medical Respite Care Programs in California and Washington

Speakers: Pooja Bhalla, DNP, RN, Chief Operating Officer, Illumination Foundation, Orange, CA; Sara Jeevanjee, MD, Medical Director, Santa Clara Medical Respite Program, San Jose, CA; Leslie Enzian, MD, Medical Director, Edward Thomas House Medical Respite, Seattle, WA

Presenters provided an overview of their medical respite care programs and share how their centers responded to COVID-19, including changes to processes, interacting with the community and other partners, and lessons regarding improving their services for people experiencing homelessness.

IV. Moderated Q&A

Moderator: Kathy Moses, CHCS and Julia Dobbins, NIMRC