Salvation Army homeless infirmary doubles in size
Local university and Lutheran church in Oregon team with Army.
Lieutenant Ron Owens speaks with a client at the homeless infirmary in Portland, Ore.
Recently, the Beautiful Savior Lutheran Church (BSLC) helped The Salvation Army double its patient capacity for the Homeless Infirmary Project (HIP) at the Portland, Ore. Harbor Light Center. The project serves homeless individuals needing medical assistance as they recover from surgery, injury or illness.
Harbor Light Director Lt. Ron Owens said the need for post-hospital care in Portland is great. “We see a lot of problems on the street—eye injuries, feet problems, people who have been beaten up. And in the winter, we see a lot more foot injuries. People can’t heal when their feet are wet,” he said.
In 2005—to help the homeless recover upon hospital release—the Army joined with Oregon Health Science University (OHSU) to provide a shelter for these individuals on the second floor of Portland’s Harbor Light facility. Initially the shelter could house 12 patients, and the Army hoped to remodel a vacant wing on the ground floor into a larger homeless infirmary. The cost, however, at about $40,000, was prohibitive.
Meanwhile, in the spring of 2006, after inquiring about volunteer opportunities at the center, BSLC began serving breakfast once a month at Harbor Light. The church quickly discovered the need to create an accessible homeless infirmary and took on the project—coordinating materials, finances and volunteers—including Frank Bruno, a licensed plumber, and Scott Schlimpert, a licensed contractor. Marty Jones, a licensed draftsman, created the building plans, and BSLC paid for the permits out of its social concerns budget. A Portland company, Johnson Air Products, donated the interior fixtures.
Today, the Portland homeless infirmary can accommodate 24 patients, with OHSU providing volunteer nurses and doctors, and The Salvation Army taking care of meals, shelter, and access to social services.
Since opening in October 2005, 62 people have received care through HIP, and with twice as many beds now available, that number will surely grow.
Also see related article – “White House recognizes Army in Oregon”