The Center's Words

Why nursing matters to me — my reason to believe

by | Mar 1, 2024 | The Center’s Words

Patrice McDonald, LPN

Patrice McDonald is the nurse supervisor for The Center for Respite Care.

The Cincinnati Enquirer Op-ed February 22, 2024

I am a nurse with a unique role. I have spent the last 15 years caring for people who are experiencing homelessness and who are ill, have been discharged from hospitals, shelters, and clinics, and have no place else to go following surgeries and other major medical procedures. These are individuals who have often lost contact with their families, their jobs, and ultimately — their homes. The Center for Respite Care is the only organization in the county that supports this sector of our population.

People who experience homelessness have a high rate of unresolved health conditions and complications, repeat emergency room visits and extended hospital stays due to improper healing.  Substandard living conditions, inadequate nutrition, extreme weather, and very limited access to health care inevitably led to serious health conditions. 

After a stay in hospitals and other facilities, extended recovery is generally needed.  Area shelters and homeless treatment programs usually cannot accommodate the follow-up care that ensures someone’s true recovery. Being sick is unnerving — in the best of circumstances. Being released from facilities often presents challenges for anyone, especially for those experiencing homelessness. This is the juncture in which my team and I step in. 

My day is committed to admitting people to the Center, bridging the time between hospitalization and wellness. This includes working with our many community partners. I connect with Schafer’s Pharmacy and NeighborHub Health on almost a daily basis. There are many other community partners like Free Store Food Bank, St. Vincent de Paul, and most recently Hospice. 

Our relationship with Hospice resulted in our connecting a client with their family. The client will now spend their final days with loved ones. It is in these meaningful moments — that I know that we have made a difference.

The Center’s clients can access 24/7 extended care in our 20-bed facility. Our medical staff addresses their pressing needs, including medical evaluations, limited lab tests, medication administration, nursing care, and the coordination of medical, substance abuse, and mental health services. 

In addition to addressing the medical needs of our clients, they are provided with bedroom amenities, showers, laundry facilities, healthy meals, and transportation to outside appointments. Most importantly, there is an ongoing educational dimension to their stay. The goal is to help each client learn about their acute and often chronic medical issues, and how to treat and manage them effectively. This includes understanding symptoms, medications, and the importance of regular and consistent communication with their healthcare providers.

Along with medical care, our case management staff works with our clients to ensure they can access any resources they require (i.e., SSI, SSDI, food stamps, birth certificates, etc.). Case management also provides opportunities for socialization, enrichment activities, education regarding healthy living, access to job training, and assistance navigating supportive services in the wider local community. We also have a wonderful group of volunteers who provide a wide range of support.

Our clients are always a diverse group, with slightly more men than women. Their interaction daily with each other, our staff, and our volunteers forms a truly healing environment.

Our goal is to ensure that when people leave the Center they have stable housing, a solid medical plan, and often — a job. This means dignity and being reconnected to the wider community.

Those of us who nurse — rise to the day — to care for people who are often overlooked. My work is my calling. For every challenging story — many lift our hearts — and make us believe in the good of humanity. I applaud nurses everywhere, our community partners, co-workers, and clients — who give us each so many reasons to believe. We are blessed to do this work.

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The Center for Respite Care is a 501(C)3 non-profit organization. View our 2022 IRS Form 990 – Public Disclosure.








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Center for Respite Care
1615 Republic Street
Cincinnati, OH 45202

P.O. Box 141301
Cincinnati, Ohio 45250

(513) 621-1868

(513) 621-1872

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