Merced Churches Help Homeless Hospital Patients

June 3, 2009 8:20:48 PM PDT
Randy Teeter has been partially paralyzed and out of work since he was shot while riding his bike in Merced more than 10 years ago.Randy said, "Someone came out of a house and shot at me 5 times and hit me in the back once."

He's one of many homeless people with serious medical issues who feel they have nowhere to turn for help once they're released from the hospital. But now a coalition of churches known as the "Sierra Saving Grace Homeless Project" is trying to help those individuals find the shelter and services they need.

Candice Adam-Medefind Sierra Presbyterian Church Elder said, "These people come out of the hospital having had surgery or illness or accident, some of them are in acute pain."

The coalition began a new program earlier this year after social workers explained that no one else would take recently released hospital patients who do not have the insurance or money for assisted living. This man, who asked us not to use his name, was the first person taken in at Sierra Presbyterian Church after he was hit by a car in January and had hip surgery. Since then, volunteers have cared for him and seven other patients by providing food, shelter, trips to doctor's appointments, and other assistance.

Candice said, "It's just been a heroic effort on the part of many volunteers that we've worked with, but we realize too it's really an overwhelming problem."

Donations from community members and the hospital have helped keep the church doors open, but Adam-Medefind says the coalition can't afford to take in anyone else. That's why members are hoping to meet with local leaders to develop a plan that will help the homeless and keep taxpayers from footing the bill for complications that can arise without proper medical care.

"If we can actually work with people and give them some hope and a chance to rehabilitate, I think in the long run it's cost effective," said Candice.

And for people like the program's first patient, it's life-changing.

Send Donations to:
Sierra Presbyterian Church
3603 M St., Merced, CA 95348

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