Imagine that you have just had major surgery and you are also homeless. The hospital discharges you with the instructions to get two weeks of bed rest. The homeless shelter network is open from 5:00 p.m. until 7:30 a.m., at which time you will need to fend for yourself on the streets. There is no one to help you fill the prescription the doctor gave you, no one to help you get food, or change your surgical dressings. Where to you go for 10 hours a day to rest?

Imagine that your one year old child needs surgery to correct a birth defect. Your family is homeless. The shelters are only open at night. You’re on the street with your one year old from 8:00 a.m. until 5:00 p.m. You know that the street is no place to be with a one year old recovering from surgery so you put the surgery off.

These are true stories from our community. The need for a 24/7 medical respite for people who are homeless is one of the huge gaps in existing services identified in MUM’s report to the Dane County Board in 2012.

Dane County has no medical respite for people who are homeless and in need of recuperative care from the hospital. In fact, there is no such facility in WI. Healing House, to be located at 303 Lathrop St. in Madison, will be an eight bed facility that will provide 24/7 medical respite for families who are homeless and have a child or parent being discharged from the hospital and in need of recuperative care. Healing House will provide up to 28 days of medical respite; three meals a day, a safe place to recover, case management services to assist the family in educational, vocational or employment services if needed, housing case management to assist the family in securing transitional or permanent housing upon leaving Healing House. Currently when someone is discharged from the hospital and requires follow-up medical care that care would be provided by the home health providers through the discharging hospital. However, if you have no home, you don’t receive the services. Healing House will be that home so that home health providers can give the follow-up care and attention necessary to individuals as they recuperate.

MUM is in the midst of a $1,000,000 Capital Campaign to make Healing House a reality (includes renovations to the site and 18 months operating budget). With your help Healing House will be open by the fall of 2016. To download the Healing House brochure click here. For information on the Capital Campaign contact Nasra Wehelie at

For additional information or for a formal presentation on Healing House or to obtain additional materials contact Terri Johnson, Medical Respite Coordinator at: