Since Christ House was founded in 1985, the first floor outpatient clinic (5th health station) and Shower Program have been part of our services, operating separately from our respite floor. Anyone in need of support – whether it be a medical or social need – could come to us and wait to be seen by a physician and case manager on our first floor. When appropriate, patients who come for a clinic appointment can also be referred upstairs to our respite floor. Thanks to our partnership with Unity Health Care, this outpatient clinic served 100 individuals each month on average before the pandemic.
Alongside the clinic, Christ House operates a Shower Program as a way to build trust with individuals and invite them into our facility. Through this program, individuals can take a shower while they are here for their appointment in the clinic. Christ House provides toiletry items and a fresh set of clothing for each individual. Our first Kairos Permanent Housing Member, Henry, has run the Shower Program since 1997:
I started working in 1997 when Dr. Goetcheus offered me a job. She thought it would be a good fit and that I’d be able to relate to people better. When [I’m working], I become their friend. I don’t ask them questions. We have fun back there laughing and joking. I tell my story and let them know I used to be homeless on the street and how I got my life back together. Sometimes it helps to give them hope.
Henry says he’s known around the neighborhood as “The Shower Program Man.”
In March of 2020, when COVID-19 hit the US, Christ House was faced with a difficult decision and ultimately chose to close the outpatient clinic and Shower Program for the safety of our 2nd floor medical respite patients. Two years later, we are proud to share that we have reopened the clinic and Shower Program. Keeping in mind the safety of our patients, Kairos Permanent Housing Members, and staff, individuals visiting the clinic will undergo a symptom check before entering our facility.
“We’re excited to reopen the clinic and provide this service to unhoused individuals in the community,” says Executive Director Mary Jordan. Christ House’s halls have been quiet the past two years, and we look forward to welcoming more individuals in need into our facility and connecting them with the health resources they need.
When asked what he would like to share with the community about his role and the Shower Program, Henry said:
I enjoy working there, I really do. Because I see people’s lives change. Sometimes people see you on the street and think that’s how you’re going to be the rest of your life, but that’s not always true. I’m the example.
The clinic and Shower Program operate from Monday – Thursday, with sign-in times from 12:30-3:30pm. People experiencing homelessness are welcome to see a physician, a case manager, and receive a shower afterward. If you have any questions about the clinic or Shower Program, please reach out to John Craig by calling (202) 328-1100.
Written by: Kira Venturini