Skip to content

NIMRC Insights

Celebrating our two-year anniversary

You’re Two? Look How You’ve Grown!!

Dr. Barbara DiPietro, Sr. Director of Policy (l) with Janelle Goetcheus, MD, founder of Christ House in Washington, D.C at Christ House Medical Respite Facility
Dr. Barbara DiPietro, Sr. Director of Policy (l) with Janelle Goetcheus, MD, founder of
Christ House in Washington, D.C

Two short years ago, on July 15, 2020, the National Health Care for the Homeless Council established the National Institute for Medical Respite Care (NIMRC). For the next month, we will celebrate our two-year anniversary by highlighting NIMRC’s accomplishments and sharing how we will continue to advance the practice of Medical Respite Care (MRC) in the years to come.

Building on the strength of its 30-year history as the national leader in MRC, the Council’s strategic plan called for us to establish an institute in July 2021. However, it became clear in the early days of the COVID-19 pandemic, that MRC was an important part of the answer to the questions many stakeholders were seeking to protect the health of people without homes during the pandemic and beyond – so we launched NIMRC a year early.

From the beginning, our efforts have been led by the wisdom and experience of the Steering Committee of the Respite Care Providers Network (RCPN). We are grateful that national leaders partnered with us and served on the NIMRC Advisory Panel, which for the first 18 months, helped us determine how to best position NIMRC to fulfill its mission of advancing Medical Respite Care.

What an incredible two years it has been! Over the next few weeks, we’ll present some of the accomplishments – and remaining challenges – in more detail, but I will give a few of the highlights here.

  • Support through Technical Assistance and regranting funds – We have been fortunate that some visionary and generous foundations and corporations approached the Council to bring the expertise of the Medical Respite and HCH community to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.  The Council and NIMRC were able to quickly re-grant funds to programs that had the most need and most promise to be immediately impactful.  Over the past two years, we have combined re-granted funds with ongoing TA to 42 Medical Respite Care programs in 17 states and Washington, D.C., and we are on course to re-grant $8 million to select MRC programs.
  • Resource Development – With the input of the RCPN Steering Committee, which is comprised of MRC practitioners, we have continued to produce timely, relevant resources for the MRC community.  Among them have been an updated Standards for Medical Respite Care programs, a literature review, and a brief on the benefits of FQHCs and Medical Respite Care programs partnering together.  
  • Policy – We continue to advocate and shape policies that support Medical Respite Care at the national level and in various states.  In June 2022, we published a report outlining a statewide Medicaid benefit for Medical Respite Care commissioned by the Washington State legislature.
  • Focus on California  – California is a leader among states in MRC innovation and program development.  California has the largest number of Medical Respite Care programs (also referred to as recuperative care) and is leading Medicaid financing innovation with changes in its Medi-Cal program making Medical Respite Care reimbursable as a Community Support.  Our goal is to support all stakeholders and ensure the changes in Medi-Cal enable Medical Respite programs to be financially sustainable, provide high-quality care, and serve more patients.
  • Partnerships – We have established and deepened relationships with foundation and corporate funders, hospital systems, governments, and local communities.  Many more Medical Respite Care programs are now more closely linked to the RCPN and benefitting from (and contributing to) our collective expertise.
  • Expanded Medical Respite Team – The entire Council works to support Medical Respite, and since 2020, we quadrupled the number of staff dedicated to supporting MRC and this team continues to grow.
  • Growth in Medical Respite programs  – As we expected, the number of Medical Respite Care programs is growing rapidly, with at least 130 programs in operation.  The Council and NIMRC are pleased we helped several of them get started or expand, and our goal is to support and equip all Medical Respite Care programs with the best practices and the best values – which are to treat all patients with dignity, provide whole-person care, and to operate in such a way as to model the equitable health care system we all need to create.

We are grateful for the accomplishments over the past two years and are looking forward to working with you to do even more. Please continue to let us know how NIMRC can best serve you.

Bobby Watts, CEO of the National Health Care for the Homeless Council and Director of the National Institute for Medical Respite Care

Bobby Watts

CEO, National Health Care for the Homeless Council, and Director of NationaI Institute for Medical Respite Care

Bobby Watts is a nationally recognized leader in the field of health care for people experiencing homelessness. Trained as a health administrator and epidemiologist, he brings more than 25 years of executive experience and Board service combating health care crises, addressing state and federal funding challenges, and developing safeguards for people without housing. Bobby also directed New York City’s Care for the Homeless from 2005–2017. Read more about Bobby