Brother Francis Shelter unveils newly-improved medical recovery space

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ANCHORAGE (KTUU) - Amid rising costs and growing need, a well-known Anchorage homeless shelter, which gets people off the streets on a daily basis, will now save even more lives with a new medical healthcare and recovery space.

"Everything is all new to me," a patient at the clinic Friday said. "If I make it, I'll be happy.

"It's cool, and I like it," she said of the clinic. "Gonna save me, maybe."

On Friday, Brother Francis Shelter unveiled and dedicated its newly-improved Caring Clinic, located within the shelter. A new space designated to medical respite has 10 beds for "medically fragile" individuals to recuperate from acute illness or injury.

"(One man) happened to see that it was open on Tuesday," said nurse practitioner Patricia McLoughlin, a volunteer at the clinic. "He came in to show us his infection, which was really, really bad.

"We were able to clean his wound, redress it and get him some antibiotics, and ask him to come back for follow-up," she said. "And that was all in this clinic."

Data from a pilot medical respite program, which is based on a setup outside of Alaska but is not a mirror of it, showed that approximately 80 percent of individuals involved in the program did not return to homelessness.

The Caring Clinic as a whole is primarily meant for general healthcare, specifically for those individuals who are most in need and at risk within the community.

The patient who Channel 2 spoke with Friday said she wouldn't have been seen by a doctor for her ailments, if not for the clinic.

"I'd have no way to get there," she said. "Not with my arthritis and stuff. I'm homeless.

"I sleep next door," she said, "and I didn't know until I walked in here. I would've sat out there with a bad cough. It turned out good."

The clinic has been run by volunteers for more than three decades, with medical professionals offering their skills on their own time.

Providence Health and Services Alaska will be providing homecare services to Brother Francis Shelter patient-guests, according to Catholic Social Services, the parent group that runs Brother Francis Shelter. Southcentral Foundation is also reportedly working in partnership with CSS to expand hours at the clinic, as well as to support a regular healthcare provider at the shelter.