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Overnight Warming Center Receives Funding Assistance from Ketchikan Medical Center


December 07, 2017
Thursday PM

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Every night about sixteen people sleep in a warm, safe, dry place instead of on the street. So far, over sixty people in our community have found shelter in the Overnight Warming Center (OWC) since it opened October 1st of this year.

The Overnight Warming Center located at the First United Methodist Church in Ketchikan provides shelter to some of the most vulnerable in our community. Before it opened many would sleep outside in the elements on the sidewalks, benches or in buildings open 24 hours a day such as the PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center's Emergency Department (ED).

jpg Overnight Warming Center Receives Funding Assistance from Ketchikan Medical Center

The Overnight Warming Center is located at the Ketchikan Methodist Church.
Photo courtesy First United Methodist Church

The Overnight Warming Center's startup was funded by an $80,000 grant from the City of Ketchikan with the expectation that other organizations would step up.

And this week PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center announced they will step up to help and will pay $27,000 for rent and utilities for the Overnight Warming Center (OWC) for the next three years and $1000 for rent and $500 for utilities per month for the six months of the OWC's wintertime operation.

“It’s the right thing to do,” said Chief Administrative Officer Ed Freysinger, “it provides a safety net for our most vulnerable population and fits into our mission by treating each person in a loving and caring way.”

The Overnight Warming Center provides an additional component to the day shelter provided by First City Homeless Services (FCHS) in that location. Evelyn Erbele is a pastor at the church, she also chairs FCHS, “the Overnight Warming Center is an extension of the missions of First City Homeless Services and Peace Health to relieve pain and suffering and treat each person in a loving and caring way.

“People who would otherwise be on the streets or going to the ED [Emergency Department] at night because it is warm now have a safe place to go. The OWC is a partnership of caring between PeaceHealth, FCHS, and the City of Ketchikan. We at FCHS are grateful for the trust that the City and PeaceHealth have vested in us.” 

Director of Community Health Development Matt Eisenhower said, “The money comes from a newly formed Community Ministries Fund designed to meet community health needs."

“The funding provides immediate assistance for the OWC and also helps in their planning. First City Homeless Services knows they have three years of operating capital for rent and utilities and they can use this money to leverage other matching grants. It provides a concrete foundation to build on,” said Eisenhower.

Charles Rolfe MD, acting Chief of Emergency Medicine at PeaceHealth Ketchikan, advocated for community support. Dr. Rolfe said, “Prior to last year the police or fire departments brought inebriated people or those on drugs to the ED because they had no place else to go. It was not uncommon for three, four or five of these individuals to be brought in each night."

“Fast forward a year, we have noticed a significant decrease on night shifts of these folks. Before the Warming Center, our medical patients might have to wait for us to clear a room to be seen while individuals were simply sleeping off their inebriation, getting dry, or warming up,” said Dr. Rolfe.

“The collaboration helps the medical center too,” said said Chief Administrative Officer Ed Freysinge, “it ensures patients suffering from chronic disease or who leave the hospital or clinics after treatment have a safe, secure option. “

“The privilege of caring for our communities embodies a trust that we will be there when there are those in need. Partnering with the City, First City Homeless Services, the Overnight Warming Shelter and others is vital to delivering on our mission to serve each person in a loving and caring way," said Freysinge.

Freysinge said, “Thank you all who serve our community, whether through support of our homeless, providing food to those who are hungry, or lending a hand to a neighbor who is in need. This is the beauty of Ketchikan, we are here for each other.”


Editing by Mary Kauffman, SitNews


Source of News:

PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center

PeaceHealth Ketchikan Medical Center, a 25-bed Critical Access Hospital, is also a Level IV Trauma Center for an area roughly twice the size of Massachusetts. Key services include general and orthopedic surgery, and primary, women’s health, pediatric, and behavioral health clinics. The Medical Center also has a 29-bed Transitional Care Unit.



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