Health Advice



4 hospitals united to tackle one of Sacramento's toughest problems. Here's what they did

Cathie Anderson, The Sacramento Bee on

Published in Health & Fitness

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Sacramento’s four hospital systems teamed up with WellSpace Health to tackle a longstanding challenge for the region’s homeless residents: Where can they go to get the conditions needed to recuperate after a hospital visit?

As of this year, the answer is a spacious, well-lit center at 4990 Stockton Blvd. in Sacramento. Roughly five years in the making, this new recuperative care facility cost $9 million to acquire, renovate and furnish. The funds for the project came from Dignity Health, Kaiser Permanente, Sutter Health, UC Davis Health, government sources and loans that WellSpace took out.

“Homelessness is what they call a wicked problem, a multifaceted problem that is very difficult to solve, and I don’t think there will be solutions unless we all come together with our collective resources and with the community and work together to try to solve it,” said Dr. Susan Murin, the interim dean for the School of Medicine at the University of California, Davis.

The building is named for longtime homeless advocate Gregory Bunker. Bunker, who died in 2010, led St. Francis House for 21 years, ministering to homeless Sacramentans.

A large graphic image of him greeting patients upon arrival in the lobby captures snippets from his favorite phrases. A few include “believe in miracles,” “form the seeds of community” and “calls us to love and action.”

Speaking at last Wednesday’s ribbon-cutting ceremony, Bunker’s son Jesse said: “I can’t think of a greater way to honor my father’s memory than this place devoted to overcoming adversity and hardship and hopefully giving people the opportunity to be great.”


Wellspace has already begun taking patients for its 100 or so bed at the site. WellSpace has acquired a variety of bed types to meet patient needs, and there are closets where they can lock away personal possessions.

The facility has a number of amenities for patients. They can access the internet on desktop computers in the “empowerment room.” There’s a snack room where patients have access to items like soup, coffee, yogurt or fruit 24 hours a day. They also can gather in one of seven day rooms to watch TV, play board games or read books.

Hospitals arrange rides to “the Bunker” for patients, or WellSpace case managers go to pick them up, said Jonathan Porteus, chief executive officer of WellSpace, which served roughly 125,000 Medi-Cal enrollees and uninsured residents in the Sacramento region last year.

Often, he said, that ride in the car is a way for the case managers to create a connection with a patient that they can’t get when they’re typing in information on a computer in an office.


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