Stacy Mooney visits the kitchen and dining room in the Women’s Shelter of the Everett Gospel Mission where she stayed with all six of her children during a recent time of extreme difficulty. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Stacy Mooney visits the kitchen and dining room in the Women’s Shelter of the Everett Gospel Mission where she stayed with all six of her children during a recent time of extreme difficulty. (Dan Bates / The Herald)

Hospital, mission team up to shelter those who need healing

EVERETT — Her options looked bleak at her lowest moment.

A divorce. Financial trouble. An eviction.

Stacy Mooney and five of her children couch-hopped around Snohomish County last winter when life upended itself.

The 45-year-old and a couple of her younger children would stay with friends. Her older ones would stay with their own friends.

Then Mooney said she was beaten by her girlfriend while staying at the woman’s home.

Her hair was pulled, her neck wrenched and her knee swelled up after she was knocked to the ground.

Mooney headed to a walk-in clinic, but the clinic sent her to Providence Regional Medical Center Everett’s emergency room.

She was treated, but was deemed too healthy to be admitted to the hospital.

“I literally limped out of that hospital and gathered my kids up and had to figure out where I was going to stay,” Mooney said. “We were literally looking at staying in my truck in a Walmart parking lot. I was completely desperate at that point.”

Hospital staff realized that Mooney and her children had no place to go.

They intervened and sent Mooney to the Everett Gospel Mission to a bed set aside for the hospital for patients who need doctor-prescribed rest and have no other place to stay.

“I thought it was amazing,” Mooney said. “They wanted to know if it would be safe when I returned home and I told them that I didn’t have a home to go to. It was a miracle for us. I don’t have any other way to explain it.”

Mooney is just one of the people helped by a partnership between Providence and the Gospel Mission with assistance from the Providence General Foundation.

As state and federal rules have tightened in recent years on who can be admitted to hospitals, Providence staff saw a need to find a place for people too healthy for a hospital bed, but who need a place to recover.

“They don’t really need to be in the hospital, but they would normally go home and rest and recuperate,” said Ruth Collins, a nursing transition coordinator and case manager at Providence. “If they were homeless, they didn’t have any place to go, they’d have to go back to the streets and into the rain.”

She had never worked in an emergency room until she came to work at Providence in 2012. She saw too many people coming into the emergency room with ailments who needed to recuperate, but didn’t have a place to really recover.

That included people with bronchitis who might develop pneumonia in the winter, wounds that wouldn’t heal without dry dressing and rape victims who needed a few days to rest and recover.

Collins asked if there was anything that could be done.

“I didn’t have the idea,” Collins said. “I had an obvious need, that’s part of my job here is to find needs, glaring needs.”

Julie Zarn, regional director of Emergency and Critical Care Services for Providence Regional Medical Center Everett, suggested a program through the Providence General Foundation where employees could apply for grants to meet community needs. The foundation put up some money and Providence reached out to the Gospel Mission.

An arrangement was made where the Gospel Mission would set aside eight beds for medical recovery — four in the men’s shelter and four in the women’s shelter. Everett Gospel Mission CEO Sylvia Anderson said she thought it was a great idea.

“Their staff, because they were compassionate were having a hard time saying, ‘Yes, you need to leave the waiting room and no, we don’t know where you can go,’” Anderson said.

The Gospel Mission would always take people, but beds are not always available. With this arrangement, Providence knows just how many beds are available and how long the beds will be occupied. And the beds are in quiet areas at the shelters, Anderson said.

“Hospitals do not want to turn sick people out onto the streets,” Anderson said. “Someone who is suffering from the flu is not going to do as well sleeping on a bench or out in a tent.”

She said other communities have medical-rest housing available and some even have nurses who visit people who are recovering. But Snohomish County hasn’t had this type of arrangement for years, she said.

The effort started as a pilot program in April 2014. The foundation is paying the cost for four beds, which come out to be $12.50 a night for linen and food. The Gospel Mission is paying for the other four.

Anderson said she hopes the program can expand.

Since the program started, 114 homeless patients discharged from Providence have been prescribed 637 days of medical rest at the Gospel Mission.

Many of those people have stayed on at the mission for a total of 2,442 days.

Several of the people who have recuperated and then stayed on worked through community programs to find stable homes.

That’s what happened with Mooney.

She stayed for four days to recuperate with her two youngest daughters. The Gospel Mission then found beds for her and her five children to continue to stay until she could get back onto her feet.

Last month, Mooney got the keys to a three-bedroom apartment in Arlington through Housing Hope. She moved in with her five children and a sixth who had been staying with her father.

Her children — who range in age from 6 to 15 — were so excited about moving out of the Gospel Mission to a place where they could get into school, start sports and get back to a normal life.

“We’re so thankful to all be together and have our own space,” Mooney said. “The kitchen table is all set up so we can have a place to eat meals and they have a place to do homework together.”

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