Catholic Diocese of Cleveland: Mary’s Home to open in December; will aid medically fragile women experiencing homelessness

Work is underway at Mary’s Home, which will open in December in downtown Cleveland. It will be a companion to the nearby Joseph’s Home. Both facilities are designed to serve the medically fragile who are experiencing homelessness.

Joseph’s Home, founded in 2000 by the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine, aids men who meet those criteria. Mary’s Home, a similar facility, will serve medically fragile women with the same issues.

“Women experiencing homelessness in Cuyahoga County have no place to go to recover from acute health conditions after leaving a hospital,” said Beth Graham, executive director of Joseph’s Home. “These women desperately need a nurturing, caring place to recuperate – not only from physical illness, but also the additional trauma they face from homelessness.”

The 10-bed medical respite care facility will be located in downtown Cleveland, in a former school and day care center adjacent to Joseph’s Home, Cleveland’s only provider of medical respite care for men experiencing homelessness. The CSA Sisters saw an unmet need in the community for a place where medically frail men experiencing homelessness could recuperate after leaving a hospital, so they established Joseph’s Home. Since then, it has helped hundreds of men recover from medical issues and obtain a permanent home. Of the residents who left Joseph’s Home in 2019, 88% continued to remain medically stable, and 90% continued to live in a stable home one year later.

Mary’s Home to open in December; will aid medically fragile women experiencing homelessness

“A ‘Dream Team’ of eight sisters led to the creation of Joseph’s Home to address the complex needs of some of our community’s most vulnerable individuals. We are honored and inspired by the incredible community support we have received to extend this mission of healing through Mary’s Home,” said Sister Judith Ann Karam, CSA, congregational leader of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine. “Especially with the intense impact of the pandemic on so many, the need for Mary’s Home is urgent and the time is now.”

Cleveland’s traditional shelters are not designed to care for women recovering from surgery or other acute health conditions. Instead, when women experience an emergent medical issue, they are rushed to a hospital, treated and then discharged back to a traditional shelter or to the streets, which often begins the cycle once again.

A recent six-year study from the Cleveland Clinic found that 2,784 women experiencing homelessness were seen in the emergency room, with some returning 10 times or more per year. In addition, a two-year study from the Norma Herr Women’s Center found 300 women from the center were admitted 937 times to St. Vincent Charity Medical Center’s emergency department. Of those, 17% were admitted five times or more.

At Mary’s Home, women will benefit from medical supervision, nursing care, education about their conditions and treatments, medication management, nutritious meals and coordination with health care, supportive services and housing providers. The integrated care model developed through Joseph’s Home serving men will be used in Mary’s Home, with added expertise in issues specific to women’s physical and mental health. The goal is to help women stabilize their health and safely establish stable housing and self-care.

The project is the result of strong community support, with a project goal of $1.3 million. Among those making visionary gifts were Sisters of Charity Foundation of Cleveland, the Elisabeth Severance Prentiss Foundation, the Corrinne Dodero Foundation and the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine.

In addition to the nearly $1 million raised so far, a recoverable grant from the Cleveland Foundation is serving as bridge financing to support initial construction and renovation of the facility. Contractor Regency Construction Services and Bialosky Cleveland, the architect, are working on converting the building.

“The overwhelming support from the community for Mary’s Home is a testament to the proven success of the work of Joseph’s Home, helping individuals return to healthy, sustainable lives,” said Richard Gallagher, chair, Joseph’s Home board of directors. “We are grateful for those already committed to helping the Sisters’ vision become a reality, and encourage those who are able to join us in supporting some of our community’s most vulnerable.”

The Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine made an additional significant contribution to the Sister Joan Gallagher Endowment Fund, which will support general operations of Joseph’s Home and Mary’s Home. Sister Gallagher was one of the “Dream Team” members and served as the first director of Joseph’s Home.

Mary’s Home, which will be located at 2302 Community College Ave., will include 10 private, furnished suites; kitchen, dining and restroom facilities; multiple meeting spaces for programming, including art and music therapy, and group sessions; isolation suites, given the risk of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases; and a dedicated health care clinic. To learn more or to contribute, click here or contact Madeline Wallace, development director, at [email protected].

Written by Carol Kovach, Catholic Diocese of Cleveland