"When most people discharge from a hospital stay, a family member takes them to a warm home where they can rest and be fed," Says new Colleague Mike Alston, who serves with JVC - Northwest in Portland, Oregon. "Homeless patients head out the front door with only a bus ticket." Though deemed "medically stable" Mike has noticed people leave tired, sore, and stressed. Through the innovative Recuperation Care Program, Mike helps homeless clients transition from the hospital to housing and recovery, beginning by driving them to a building with food and a warm bed.
Though Mike majored in International Economic Development, he's become discouraged about economic disparity closer to home. "There simply aren't enough slots for those who genuinely want help. The whole city is strapped. It makes it hard when someone wants to move forward and make good choices, but the best they can do is be on a waiting list." Still, he tries to hold on to the success stories: "It is great when clients defy your negative expectations. One woman came to us cycling through the emergency room, in a wheelchair, and her life was falling apart. Still, she discharged into permanent housing, and has been walking and sober for months-and keeping regular appointments! It's hard not to become jaded, but sometimes clients defy your expectations in a positive way."
Set to begin Medical School at the University of Washington this fall, Mike is gaining valuable insight into a medically vulnerable population and the medical care system through his service at the hospital. He plans to use his Krista Foundation Grant funds to attend the Northwest Regional Primary Care Association's Spring Conference "to better prepare for... a career (as a physician) and to better understand the various issues surrounding healthcare delivery to poor and vulnerable populations." Mike also plans to bring lessons from the conference back to Old Town Clinic in Portland.
As a volunteer in the presidential motorcade, Mike was recently able to meet President Obama. Mike took the opportunity to remind the President that AmeriCorps funding was critical to his work, but that the House had passed a budget with significant cuts to the program. The President affirmed his concern, and thanked him for his service.