New emergency discharge community transition beds opening for people experiencing homelessness

January 12, 2023

EDMONTON — Alberta Health Services (AHS) and Jasper Place Wellness Centre are opening 36 new transition beds that will be available for people experiencing homelessness who have been discharged from Edmonton hospital emergency departments.

The Bridge Healing Transitional Accommodation Program is designed to improve health outcomes for those needing transitional care. The program will help clients transition to appropriate community supports, including housing, physical health, mental health and addiction services. The duration of stays in the program will vary depending on each person’s situation.

"Partnerships in health care delivery help ensure that Albertans get the best care from our dedicated health care workers. I’m really pleased to see this partnership move forward because it will have positive health impacts for the most vulnerable Albertans, as well as the potential to positively impact the demand on emergency services. Albertans want to see improvements in our health care system and we’re committed to delivering that. This work is one more example of our commitment to improving access to health care services," says Premier Danielle Smith.

AHS is working with Jasper Place Wellness Centre, a local non-profit focused on supporting those experiencing homelessness, to provide transitional supports to assist people in recovering and moving towards permanent housing following an emergency department visit.

"It is our goal that by establishing a more stable connection to ongoing healthcare services and other programming that we can improve the lives of these residents. At the same time, we believe that by supporting them out in the community, we can prevent future emergency department visits, which will help ease the pressure on our healthcare workers at our hospitals," says AHS Official Administrator Dr. John Cowell.

Those experiencing homelessness while also struggling with a chronic illness or health issue are often more susceptible to complications and repeat emergency department visits.

"AHS is committed to ensuring that Albertans achieve the best possible health outcomes by receiving the right care at the right time," says Mauro Chies, interim AHS President and CEO. "Increasing transition support in the community helps improve the care experience for vulnerable Albertans and assists emergency physicians in prescribing appropriate discharge instructions for people experiencing homelessness. We’d like to thank Jasper Place Wellness Centre for their partnership on this important program and the Government of Alberta for their continued support."

Healthcare is also about more than the services provided in our hospitals and this program highlights how AHS can partner with local agencies to improve access to community supports.

"This is an investment in the ongoing health and wellness of a vulnerable population and meeting people where they are to provide the care they need all while offering them a safe housing option," says Health Minister Jason Copping.

AHS hopes to have the first patients discharged from emergency and into Bridge Healing’s facility later this month.

"We are excited to partner with AHS in this unique accommodation program," says Taylor Soroka, Co-Founder and Vice President of Strategy and Engagement for Jasper Place Wellness Centre. "We are committed to supporting informed, community-led solutions and this is just one example. We’d like to thank AHS for their support and belief in this important work, and we recognize the ongoing work of community members, especially those with lived experience in houselessness, who have advised and supported this program."

Alberta Health Services is the provincial health authority responsible for planning and delivering health supports and services for more than four million adults and children living in Alberta. Its mission is to provide a patient-focused, quality health system that is accessible and sustainable for all Albertans.