SALT LAKE CITY — A local group gave a homeless Utahn "the best outcome she probably could have had" at the end of her life, according to her social worker.
Cheryle Wolfe, a social worker for Inspiration Hospice, worked for months with a woman who lived in a hotel room and was facing death. Over time, they moved the woman, in her 60s, to a nursing facility and reconnected her with estranged family members.
“She was surrounded by good care at the end. She did have people coming in, caring about her, and she had good pain management and medical care that way, and she didn’t die alone,” Wolfe said. “This work is very rewarding anyway, but if you can really kind of make a difference in somebody's life that’s really tangible, then that’s, that’s a lot. It’s very meaningful”
Inspiration Hospice is one of the partners of Inn Between, a group created to provide hospice and palliative care to homeless people who are dying.
Thursday night, as part of National Hospice Month, Inn Between is hosting a soup dinner and silent auction to raise funds that will go toward a home for those under their care.
“This has been a long-term dream, and we’re just now really getting to the point where we’re now making it a reality,” said Debbie Thorpe, chairwoman of the Inn Between board of directors.
Having worked in palliative care for 30 of her 45 years in nursing, Thorpe began talking with a friend a few years back about what happens to those who are homeless and need end of life care.
They created a grass-roots outreach to local homeless agencies, hospice providers and religious groups, and it has since has grown to the point where the group is in need of a permanent venue for their services.
"It's hard to provide hospice under the viaduct," said Dale Hull, executive director of Utah Hospice and Palliative Care Organization, a nonprofit organization that has taken Inn Between under its stewardship until the latter can exist on its own.
"Our preference is to get them a little safer and a little warmer," Hull said, "and just care for them when they're dying."
Inn Between has "undergone several transitions" since its inception. It was organized under the 4th Street Clinic, currently one of Inn Between's partner organizations, and eventually found its way to the Utah Hospice and Palliative Care Organization.
Although Inn Between has only helped a handful of patients so far, Thorpe said it is now poised to receive additional referrals from agencies. Inn Between will soon begin an educational program to let people around the city know about its services.
Inn Between works with terminally ill patients and hospitals to provide permanent housing, medical care, help them apply for Medicare or Medicaid, and pay for prescriptions and other medical costs. Ultimately the group plans to train additional hospice volunteers and continue to involve local faith groups in the effort.
The group is in the process of renting a facility from the Salt Lake Catholic Diocese that would house up to 10 people. Thorpe hopes Inn Between can raise $50,000 to comfortably pay rent and other expenses.
Anyone interested in volunteering — which could involve anything from visiting and sitting with patients to painting the new facility — can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
The soup supper and silent auction will be held at the Episcopal Church Center of Utah, 75 S. 200 East, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. A $10 donation is recommended for the meal; $15 for a mug bearing the Inn Between Logo.
For more information, visit the Inn Between Facebook page.
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