Dr Bob — Congrats and thank you for your service
It could be said that the Center is here because of the vision of Dr. Bob Donovan. As one of our founders and our chief of medical operations, he is core to our mission. While we provide individuals with a return to stable housing, social service support, and long-term care — our treatment to heal acute health challenges (led by Dr. Donovan)— and strongly supported by our team of stellar nurses is central to who we are.
Donovan is one of the 2023 Transformation Award honorees — and will be honored via our September 14 virtual event. (to learn more www.centerforrespitecare.org)
Decades ago, after being in private practice for several years, Bob Donovan entered the Society of Mary. Following the profession of vows, he returned to Cincinnati and became the Medical Director of the Cincinnati Health Care for the Homeless Program in 1988. As part of his duties, he has delivered primary care to people experiencing homelessness at the Mobile Medical Clinic at several of the shelters in the Cincinnati area for 24 years, and he currently cares for people experiencing homelessness (and others) at the McMicken Health Collaborative in the Over-the-Rhine neighborhood.
When asked why the Center eventually opened its doors Donovan explains,
“I’d been working with the healthcare for the homeless program doing primary care for folks experiencing homelessness and we noticed the gap in trying to get people well. There was a revolving door taking place. People got sick — went to the hospital — got admitted and then discharged to a shelter. They were not able to get well again. We needed to break that cycle. We found out about other cities that were doing respite and thought this is something we need to make a difference in people’s health.”
The Center is 20 years old this year. Donovan is heartened by the progress that has carried us.
“I think that we’ve come a long way in getting that vision to happen and I’m proud of where we are right now — current facility, the staff — we’ve collectively done an amazing job”
While there is much discussion about people who experience homelessness and how to improve folks’ odds — Donovan has his thoughts on this trajectory.
“Housing is everything. My objective is to be able to take people from being in an unhealthy situations to bringing them into the Center.
We provide wide coverage of things that will improve their health. That’s everything from their acute medical illness to taking care of their mental health and their addictions. This includes their housing situation.
We don’t discharge people until we have a place where they can get go where their housing is stable and so their lives are more stable. We want to be sure that they will get to their medical appointments, get their medications, and have a medical provider.”
Donovan continues and explains that when “we” witness people experiencing homelessness, we are only observing a small part of their challenge.
“The challenges that you see (when people come to the Center) is that they’ve often been without regular medical care for quite a while. They have not been cared for regularly —which causes other medical issues.”
Donovan does not like to be the center of attention — yet he is pleased that the Transformation Award expresses the things that the Center is doing right.
“I’m honored of and I’m glad that there’s some evidence that we’re doing something good here.”
Importantly he explains that he is honored to often participate with other organizations (across the country) to learn and — in turn — those organizations learn from the Center. Thank you, Dr. Bob, for your vision over 20 years ago and for showing us how it’s done.