Shelter offering end-of-life care to homeless people
DENVER — The mission of End-of-life care at Rockies Shelter center began with a question posed to Brother James Patrick.
“A friend of mine messaged me on Facebook and said, ‘Where do the homeless die?'” Patrick said. “And I said, ‘Well, they die where they live – under bridges, on sidewalks and alleys…’ She said, ‘No one should die alone.’ And I agreed with her.
This sparked the mission: to create a place that would provide shelter from the elements, access to pain and necessary medical care, and above all, offer friendship as the homeless prepare for the end of their lives. .
It’s a small mission to start with, housed in a small wing of the Denver Rescue Mission that adds furniture and supplies as they become available. After just a month, however, the Rocky Mountain Refuge team believe they are closing a wide gap in services for the people who need them most – when they need them most.
“Hospices are not shelters,” Patrick said. “They’re not designed to do that. Shelters are not hospices. They are not designed for this. So we fill that gap. We are about the fourth in the United States to do this.
Within the first month of operation, the RMR has already cared for its first “resident” (the team refers to the people it cares for as residents rather than patients). Denver-area Hospice Networks are now identifying others on the street who need CMA services. Everyone is welcome at the facility, regardless of religious background, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity. The Christian, Jewish and Muslim denominations are all represented on the centre’s board of directors.
Dr. Michele Ferguson, herself a board member, has decades of experience as a physician working in palliative care. She has seen how important this type of support is.
“I get emotional sometimes,” Dr. Ferguson said, reflecting on her work in palliative care. “You can see it in the very face of someone who is unconscious. You will see that they are working on stuff. And they won’t leave until this is fixed. And you will see their face when they die will be smooth and untroubled.
The work of Rocky Mountain Refuge is made possible through donations and the work of volunteers. People with or without experience in medical care are invited to apply on the center website.