Imagine being discharged from the hospital with nowhere to go. It’s been a reality for some homeless people in Anchorage that could soon be changing.

On Friday, the Brother Francis Shelter held a dedication ceremony for their new medical respite wing. Shelter manager Lisa Caldeira said five rooms, each with two beds, have been set aside for people who are healing from surgeries or other major illnesses.

“A patient stays for the duration of their acute medical need,” Caldeira explained. “So, let’s say a doctor recommends seven days for dehydration– or it could be up to three or four months if someone is going through chemotherapy.”

Caldeira said the idea is to give people a safe, quiet place to heal and hopefully help cut down on frequent visits to the emergency room and costly hospital stays.

She said it’s also a place where they can connect to services. According to Caldeira, up to 80-percent of the people in a pilot respite program didn’t return to the shelter once they were well.

“They went on to permanent housing, assisted living or back home,” Caldeira said. “They get the rest and support they need and the ability to recover before they can move on to be [permanently] housed.”

The program has several partners including the Municipality of Anchorage, Catholic Social Services and all three major hospitals in Anchorage. South Central Foundation is also involved, staffing a clinic within the shelter that is open five days a week and offers free medical care to those in need.

KTVA 11’s Lauren Maxwell can be reached via email or on Twitter.