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Healing House to support Madison hospital patients without a home

MADISON (WKOW) — Madison will soon have the first house in the nation that’s designed to help families without a home as they recover from surgery, childbirth or other hospital stays.

Construction crews are putting the finishing touches the Healing House. It will soon start accepting patients who have just been released from the hospital but have nowhere else to go.

“When people come in, our hope is that they don’t leave and be homeless again,” said Healing House coordinator Terri Johnson.

Madison Area Urban Ministry will run Healing House. The organization has been planning the facility for years after county officials asked its leaders to find help to house people living at the Occupy Madison site in 2012.

Since then, the project has evolved into a focus on families experiencing homelessness.

“We fully anticipate that this project will also help with improving birth outcomes, particularly for infants of color and moms of color, so we think just overall is just going to help improve the health and quality of life in our community,” said MUM executive director Linda Ketcham.

The organization is renting the house on Lathrop Street from neighbor United Church of Christ.

MUM is saving on renovation costs by partnering with local businesses and another organization helping the community.

Operation Fresh Start construction crews have done most of the demolition and work to renovate the home for its new use. That group helps train young people in construction trades, to get their high school diploma or find a job.

The crews work for several months on different jobs during the program, but this project is a unique and special one for the team.

“It’s nice to know that [the work is] going to something and working with the community and partnering with the community,” said supervisor Jason Henkins. “I feel like for these guys, they get to see the project and people that talk about it, they actually get to see something that people throughout the community care about.”

Organizers say the project wouldn’t be possible without generous donations from the community, who have funded the budget to staff the facility 24/7.

There will be space for eight to 10 people, depending on the size of the families, with private rooms and shared bathroom and living spaces. The families will be allowed to stay 28 days.

“My hope is that it’s a home-like environment, where people feel, instantly the minute they walk in the door, they feel at home,” Johnson said.

MUM will provide meals and services to find a job or housing, thanks to help from other location organizations like the Road Home.

Doctors or organizations serving the homeless will refer patients to Healing House.

Ultimately, organizers expect it to provide cost savings for the healthcare system because people will be less likely to be readmitted after being discharged from the hospital if they’re taken care of at Healing House. MUM leaders hope someday the hospitals will help fund the operation.

MUM expects work to be completed within the next week. They’ll host a ribbon cutting ceremony on May 4 to celebrate the grand opening of the Healing House.

Click here for more information on the program.

Jennifer Kliese

Weekend Anchor and Reporter, 27 News

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