Digging Deeper for “Bridge Healing” to Take Root and Provide Shelter

Every year, over 26,000 individuals experiencing homelessness visit Alberta’s Emergency Rooms, with many of them coming through the Royal Alexandra Hospital.

Sadly, following these visits, none of these people are provided with housing.

As such, there is no end to the cycle. A person experiencing homelessness visits the ER, is discharged back into homelessness, and often, sooner or later, returns to the ER. 

Patients experience poor outcomes and lose dignity and respect. Physicians suffer demoralization. And the healthcare system shoulders a hefty financial cost.

As an organization, the Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation (RAHF) has provided millions of dollars and countless hours of work targeted at improving the health and overall life outcomes of the highest-risk populations in our city and province.

The foundation prides itself on serving Edmonton’s ‘inner city hospital,’ and is now proud to support the Bridge Healing “Asamina Kochi” pilot program to work to solve these problems.

“Asamina Kochi” translates from Cree into “to try again.” Herein lies the program’s surprisingly simple premise.

Instead of discharging Edmontonians experiencing homelessness back out into the world with little to no support, the program creates a bridge.

After visiting an emergency department such as the Royal Alex’s, these patients will receive immediate housing and many of the supports they need to find longer-term solutions—medical care, mental health support, social support, legal support, food security, harm reduction strategies, employment, and more.

Patients will be offered free transportation to a newly built 12-suite building at the Jasper Place Wellness Centre (JPWC). They could stay for up to 60 days depending on their needs, and staffers would work with them to find many of the resources listed above, along with short-term work opportunities, and other supports to help them get ready to move onward.

The Royal Alexandra Hospital Foundation’s goal is to raise $290,000 to support the building of a second (new) 12-suite Bridge Healing Housing Unit, as the City of Edmonton agreed in May 2022 to fund one year of the pilot, supplying $290,000 to cover operational costs.

Successfully funding this program would effectively double the program’s capacity to assist those recently discharged patients experiencing homelessness—and double the number of second chances being given.

As they say, everyone deserves a second chance.