Walter Jacque figured he was better off than most people without homes.
He had a pickup-truck cab he could sleep in at night, snuggled up with his service-dog Andy. It wasn’t comfortable or safe, but it kept him out of the elements.
His doctors were less optimistic.
“They told me the conditions I was living in were detrimental to my health and I should be in a shelter,” Jacque said. “But try getting shelter!”
The 62-year-old Bremerton resident found himself in an all-too-common predicament: Coping with serious health problems but unable to find stable housing. He said he spent six days at Harrison Medical Center last spring for treatment of a heart condition, then checked back in last week with dehydration resulting from an illness.
After his second hospitalization, Jacque’s outlook changed for the better. A Harrison social worker helped place him in a new respite-care program established at Benedict House, a men’s shelter in the West Hills neighborhood. The program gives Jacque a safe place to recuperate and help him on a path toward long-term stability.
Joshua Waguespack with Catholic Community Services, which operates Benedict House, said the program is aimed a patching a hole in the safety net, providing homeless patients discharged from Harrison with the support they need to recover from injuries and illnesses while reducing their dependence on costly emergency-room visits.
“We knew we had to bridge the gap between housing and health,” Waguespack said.
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