As the cost of living in Seattle continues to rise, more and more residents are being forced into homelessness. Once experiencing homelessness, other needs — such as finding proper health care — can often become a lesser priority than the daily struggle of finding a safe space to sleep.
To help care for those going through hard times in Seattle, Harborview Medical Center — owned by King County and part of UW Medicine — established partnerships with local service providers to offer health care. Most recently, the hospital partnered with Seattle’s Downtown Emergency Service Center (DESC) to offer health care in a 91-unit apartment complex known as The Estelle in South Seattle.
The Estelle opened earlier this year, and a Harborview nurse works full time to provide care to residents. A physician is available for calls and visits as needed, and the hospital plans to hire another part-time nurse to meet the need for health care services at the facility, which quickly filled to capacity after opening. Facilities like The Estelle are particularly helpful because they offer a safe space for patients to heal after they are no longer in need of acute hospital care but lack a safe place to which they can be discharged.
The Estelle is the latest initiative in the partnership between Harborview and DESC that stretches back two decades. Harborview caregivers also work within DESC’s main shelter in Pioneer Square, working to integrate primary care and mental health. By combining services, patients are more likely to get the comprehensive care they need. Harborview also operates its own outreach services that care for those experiencing homelessness in the city.
Harborview plans to continue its partnership with DESC, offering health care in new facilities in the next few years and expanding access to primary care for those experiencing homelessness. Read more The Estelle from DESC. (Tim Pfarr)