Kim Correa

Kim Correa

On March 12, 2021,Governor Spencer Cox signed into law House Bill 34, Medical Respite Care Pilot Program, an important piece of legislation that ensures that people experiencing homelessness can receive the recuperative and end-of-life care they need. This is landmark legislation for Utah being the first Medicaid 1115 Waiver for medical respite in the entire country.

H.B. 34 is a win-win-win-win solution that has many positive outcomes, including:

  • Giving Medicaid members who lack housing increased access to health care, which will result in better health care outcomes, improved continuity of healthcare, and more appropriate utilization of primary care over emergency room care.
  • Giving clinics and hospitals a sub-acute care solution for patients who are too sick to be on the streets but not sick enough to stay in the hospital. This applies to people who need to recuperate after hospitalization, stabilize prior to hospitalization, or simply need a place to recuperate in lieu of being admitted to a hospital.
  • Decreasing costs to Utah Medicaid by being able to "right-size" care - having a cost-effective option to reduce medically unnecessary hospital stays. 
  • Relieving stress on our homeless services system, particularly the homeless resource centers.

How does the waiver work?

H.B. 34 directs the Utah Department of Health (UDOH) to create a Medicaid 1115 waiver that will add medical respite as a covered benefit for Medicaid members who lack housing and are covered by the Medicaid Expansion program. In this sense, the term "waiver" can be thought of as a program. UDOH will draft the waiver and submit it to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) for approval, after which they will implement the program and evaluate it for a three-year pilot period to demonstrate its efficacy and cost effectiveness. As Utah's only medical respite facility, The INN Between was selected as the provider under the three-year pilot program. Over the next 6 months, we will collaborate with UDOH and other stakeholders to define the program parameters and performance measures. The entire process could take 12 to 18 months.

What is medical respite?

At its core, medical respite is about what comes next... For most of us, we see the doctor, and the next is "Go home, get some rest, take your medication, drink plenty of fluids, keep your wound clean, make it to your follow up appointment [chemo, x-ray, lab], etc. Arguably, the most important component of the next is emotional well-being - the tender loving care of family and friends - which plays such an important role in health. 

However, the next is often completely out of reach for those who lack housing.  Without the next, their condition often worsens and they end up back in the emergency department.

Medical Respite provides the place where the next can happen. It is temporary supportive housing for individuals who are too sick to be on the streets or in shelter but not sick enough to be in the hospital. It provides all basic needs, comprehensive social, emotional, and medical support, in a compassionate and non-judgemental environment. As a service, medical respite is a spectrum of care that can include:

  • recuperative care after illness, injury, or hospitalization,
  • stabilization care so that patients can become eligible for surgery, cancer treatment, and other medical interventions,
  • emergency department diversion for patients who do not need to be admitted to the hospital but cannot be released back to the streets,
  • end of life care for the terminally ill.

H.B. 34's history.

The INN Between opened in 2015 to address the need for end of life and medical respite care. This was groundbreaking work, and our program was one of just a few in the country. This was at a time when mental health practitioners were advocating to have residential mental health services covered by Medicaid, a goal which was later realized. However, our health care system did not provide a benefit that would house individuals through the acute portion of their medical condition.  This led to people remaining hospitalized far longer than necessary, or exiting to the streets where their condition would worsen. 

Kim Correa began working on this issue several years ago, advocating for Medicaid members and the benefits of medical respite. She attended many committee meetings, discussed the issues with UDOH and many other stakeholders, and refined the approach to a solution. The project caught the attention of Representative James Dunnigan who understood the necessity and value of the initiative. In the fall of 2020, he invited Kim to present to the Health Care Reform Task Force.  During that meeting, he moved to open a bill file, becoming its official sponsor. The motion passed unanimously.

From there, the bill moved to the House Health and Human Services Committee (HHS), passing with all yes no votes. The next step was the Senate HHS, where it again passed with all yes votes. After that, the bill went to the full House floor, where it again passed with all yes votes. Senator Evan Vickers stepped up to sponsor the bill in the Senate, where it again passed with all yes votes. The bill returned to the House for a final vote, again all yes votes, and was then sent to Governor Cox's desk.  

Today, the bill was signed into law by Governor Spencer Cox. 

Our gratitude.

We are grateful to so many people who collaborated and contributed to make this happen. Representative Dunnigan for his leadership, counsel, and encouragement throughout the past several years. Former Representative Kory Holdaway who has given his time generously to assist with government relations. Emma Chacon, Nate Checketts and Tonya Hales at the UDOH for their experience and collaboration. Senator Vickers for his leadership in the Senate. All the Committee members who so thoughtfully considered the merits of the bill. The members of The INN Between's staff and board of directors who supported Kim throughout the process. There are many others, and if we have left someone off the list, it is unintentional and with no disrespect.

Our commitment.

We at The INN Between are committed to working with our community partners to create and implement a program that improves healthcare outcomes for Medicaid members, increases the efficiency and effectiveness of our healthcare system, and reduces costs to Utah Medicaid. We look forward to demonstrating the efficacy and cost effectiveness of medical respite to the community.

The Utah Legislature is considering House Bill 34 which will allow medical respite facilities to bill Medicaid for the services they provide. Medical respite is temporary housing with supportive services for homeless individuals who are too ill to be on the streets but not ill enough to be in the hospital. It provides continuity of care that results in better health outcomes while maximizing utilization of scarce hospital resources and lowering costs to the Utah Medicaid program.

On January 21st, the bill passed out of the House Health and Human Services Committee with unanimous support. Next it heads to the House floor, then the Senate Health and Human Services Committee, then onto the Senate floor. 

Medical respite facilities provide in-house care that includes all basic needs, transportation to medical appointments, 24/7 caregiver support, and comprehensive social and emotional support. These services and supports are the building blocks of the social determinants of health (SDOH), now a priority of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services. The INN Between has been providing medical respite care to terminally ill and medically frail homeless adults since 2015.

HB34 was sponsored by Representative Jim Dunnigan after having passed through the Health Care Reform Task Force. It will accomplish the following:

  • Create a Medicaid 1115 Waiver for medical respite care. This is a State - Federal process, similar to the Medicaid Expansion Waiver that was recently implemented.
  • Ensure that people experiencing homelessness who are served by Medicaid expansion will have access to medical respite services.
  • Reduce Medicaid costs to the State by lowering hospital admissions, the length of hospital stays, and hospital readmissions when that level of care is unnecessary.
  • Leverage a 90/10 Federal dollar match - for every dollar invested by the State, the Federal government invests $9 in return.

HB34 leverages a 90/10 Federal match. In other words, for every dollar that Utah pays, the Federal government pays $9.00.  Additionally, the annual ongoing cost of $125,000 is made up by savings to the Utah Medicaid system that will result from using medical respite services instead of costlier hospital stays. This is a win-win-win solution!

Click to see the full text of HB34. 

How you can help...

Please call or email your Representative and Senator to express your support for HB34.  Not sure who your legislators are? Click here to find out! 

The subject of your email can simply be, "Support for HB34."  The content can also be simple and direct, such as, "I am one of your constituents, and I am writing to express my support for HB34, Medical Respite Care Pilot Program."  Sign the email with your name and address.  Your message can go into more detail if you wish. It is helpful to share your connection and experience with The INN Between.

 Thank you for your support.  Together, we can ensure that everyone has a place to call home at the end of life or as they recuperate from a medical crisis.







Kim Correa, Executive Director, The INN Between
August 17, 2020, Salt Lake City

Five years ago, in a moment forever etched in my memory, The INN Between opened our doors and received our first client, Olivia, a young woman who was dying of breast cancer. Since January 9, 2015, my first official day as Executive Director, I had been working long hours into the evening, problem solving with Ken Millo, an architect who came to my rescue and became a dedicated volunteer, to overcome obstacles—zoning, licensing, and community fears. We learned of Olivia early in the process and were particularly motivated to get her off the streets. As you can imagine, I was overcome with joy and relief as I welcomed her to what would become her final home.

This story is a personal account of my involvement with The INN Between, which began one day in 2013, when Brent Jones, CEO of Community Nursing Services (CNS), walked into my office, placed a piece of paper on my desk, and said, “I’d like you to start attending these meetings.” (Coincidentally, this man would resurface in my life five years later to sell us a nursing home on 1300 South, now The INN Between’s permanent home). I headed to that fateful meeting not knowing that I would become acquainted with a group of visionaries who wanted to change the way we treat dying people who are experiencing homelessness.

Previously, like many people, I had been unaware of the complexities of homelessness, sequestering that unfortunate aspect of society toward the back of my mind, and I assumed that “the system” had a solution for those who were dying. I did not know that many people died on the streets with little media attention, or, unable to cope with the pain, anxiety, and desperation, chose to end their lives.

At that first encounter, I met Deborah Thorpe, an Advance Practice Registered Nurse working at Huntsman Cancer Hospital. She had the inspiration, back in 2010, to create a “hospice for the homeless,” a home that would offer compassion, peace, safety, dignity, and most importantly, access to hospice care, a critical end-of-life medical service that can’t be delivered in shelters, motels, or encampments. I also met Monte Hanks, then Client Services Director at Fourth Street Clinic, and Dan Hull, Executive Director of the Utah Hospice and Palliative Care Organization. These dedicated individuals founded the committee that would later become The INN Between’s first board of directors.

The committee comprised people from all walks of life: government agencies, nonprofits, hospice agencies, the medical community, chaplains, and concerned citizens. As volunteers (no funding had yet been obtained), we worked on topics as varied as creating the organization’s name and logo, drafting policies and procedures, strategizing business models, and finding a suitable location from which to operate. With no other end-of-life programs for the homeless in the country, we lacked a model from which to work and were creating the program from scratch.

Over the course of a year, my knowledge of homelessness grew exponentially, and I was developing a strong personal desire to make a difference; however, I did not know quite how to proceed. I met with Ed Blake, Executive Director of Habitat for Humanity, and he gave me a list of people to contact, including Lloyd Pendleton, the Director of Homeless Services for the State of Utah, who strongly supported the idea and guided me in establishing more connections.

In the late spring of 2014, Jennifer Gregory, a Registered Nurse, and I created a referral program to secure donated beds in skilled nursing facilities for homeless hospital patients who were near death. With this, word of The INN Between began to grow in the medical community, and we went on to include homeless service providers like Volunteers of America and The Road Home in our outreach circle.

In the fall of 2014, things really started to pick up steam. Jennifer found a donor to support the Executive Director’s salary for a year, a position she was slated for (as a single mother of two middle-school children, I was quite content to work my steady 8 to 5 job at CNS and serve The INN Between as a volunteer). I was able to secure our first grant, a $10,000 from American Express passed through CNS. I created the corporation and submitted our nonprofit application (known as Form 1023) to the IRS, with the mission of “facilitating temporary shelter for medically fragile homeless individuals in the Salt Lake metropolitan area who need a safe place to recuperate or spend the end-of-life” (the nonprofit status was approved within three months). About the same time, I recall a committee meeting where Monte shared a potential property, the old Roman Catholic convent on Goshen Street. Later, Deacon George Reade, who was responsible for the Diocese properties, met with us and became very interested in the project—this would become the tipping point in the evolution of The INN Between as we began to envision setting up our home in that sacred space.

Then, just before Christmas, Jennifer called to tell me that she had accepted an amazing job and was moving to Georgia. With no Executive Director, our project was at risk of fizzling out.  A few days later, I started to wonder if I was qualified. I am not a nurse, but I have business and nonprofit management experience. After spending many days contemplating the notion, my passion for the cause won out, and I threw my hat in the ring. I was extremely humbled and honored that the board of directors placed their faith in me.

January 9, 2015 was my last day at CNS and my first at The INN Between (I had planned to take two weeks off, but that didn’t work out, and skipping vacations would become the norm). Despite not having a formal lease, Deacon Reade allowed me to set up an office in the convent, and, with the board’s help, I started fervently working toward two goals: opening the doors and getting funding to support the cause. On a dark and freezing cold winter’s evening, Debbie, a couple of volunteers, and I sat bundled up at a plastic table in front of the convent, offering hot chocolate to the neighbors and explaining our mission. Everyone we spoke with expressed heartfelt support for the concept in a compassionate way, reinforcing to us that the location we had chosen, or that had chosen us, would be perfect.

We sent a flyer around the neighborhood to explain our plan and received many offers to help with cleaning, furniture, and the like.  In May, we held a Ribbon Cutting and House Blessing Ceremony, attended by clergy, elected officials, and over 100 community members who strongly supported our cause and welcomed The INN Between to the neighborhood.   Things were going swimmingly at first, but things started to become rocky when one neighbor spearheaded a campaign to block The INN Between. She got the attention of the media, and a reporter from FOX13 showed up at the door one afternoon. He asked so many questions, and eventually confided that was there to "dig up dirt," but finding our mission so compelling, he was going to run a positive story that sparked visits by many other reporters. Seemingly overnight, the media attention raised awareness about our program, and scores of people surfaced to support our cause with their time, talent, and treasury. ABC4 Utah’s Randall Carlisle soon became a staunch proponent of our cause and is still a mentor, having moved on to follow his passion at Odyssey House. We received our first big donation as a stand-alone nonprofit from Dan Adams at CIT Bank—$20,000, breaking the ice and paving the way for other foundations and companies to follow suit. KUED Producers Sally Shaum and Nancy Green took an interest, later gaining approval to film a documentary that would follow our program for a year, and in particular chronicle the life and death of one resident, Jim Adams (you can watch Homeless at the End online at On May 15th, we held a Ribbon Cutting and House Blessing Ceremony, attended by more than 100 people who were eager to help.

Our two buildings, the convent and the adjacent old Guadalupe School, were in need of painting, cleaning, furnishing, and repairs. Brent Willis, Executive Director of Home Inn, a transitional housing program, enlisted the help of his residents and members of the homeless community, who were thrilled to give back in support of this, and many of whom undoubtedly had first-hand experience with someone dying on the streets. About 100 volunteers from Windermere Realty transformed an area of dead grass and prickly bushes into a beautiful Memorial Garden. Neighbor Larry Martinez installed a fence along the entire back of the property to give the neighbors some privacy (the first of many volunteer projects he would help with). And numerous other church groups, boy scout troops, companies, and individuals stepped forward—too many to recount.

One volunteer in particular, Matilda Lindgren, a gentle soul who had briefly been homeless herself, would soon volunteer, become one of the first employees, and quickly rise to the position of Program Director. Matilda is truly the heart and soul of The INN Between. Her compassion, way with people, and experience with the dying process perfectly complemented my business-oriented skill set. We formed a special bond, each focused on different aspects of running organization, but inextricably linked, like the roots of an Aspen grove. Together, we would grow The INN Between, creating a model that other communities would seek to follow.

Despite the positive press, the neighbors began to develop an intense fear that their quite little street would devolve into a drug and crime infested “homeless central,” akin to downtown’s Rio Grande Street at the time. With no experience to the contrary, we could not easily assuage their fears. Our instincts told us that people who are sick and dying would be grateful for the opportunity to live in harmony with the neighborhood, but only time would bear that out (which, turned out to be the case as we found, sadly, that once in our care, residents rarely meandered about or received visitors). 

This dissent caught the attention of Salt Lake City’s City Council, and a temporary ordinance almost shut our program down before it ever started. Fortunately, with the help of Ken Millo, former Salt Lake City Mayor Rocky Anderson, and others, we were able to overcome these obstacles; however, code compliance issues stilted our progress again, principally the lack of a fire suppression system (fire sprinklers) in the convent. Ken and I were strategizing in my office late one afternoon when an idea struck me—we had previously received a substantial cash donation from Kent Mann, CEO of Fire Engineering Company. I mentioned this to Ken who urged me to place a call. It was about 5:00 pm, closing time, yet Kent answered, listened to our predicament, and sent someone right over to estimate the job.

About a week later, Kent called to tell me that the employees had a big meeting and decided, unanimously, to donate the entire job—a saving grace that, once again, set The INN Between back on course. They finished the job in under two weeks, the last step in the process to get our Certificate of Occupancy. The final inspection took place late in the day on Friday, August 14, 2015, and it passed. First thing Monday morning, I set foot in the Salt Lake City Planning Division office and asked for Ken Andersen. He greeted me with a warm smile and asked me to take a seat and wait. About a half-hour later, he returned, beaming, and handed me a freshly signed Certificate of Occupancy.

I was able to locate Olivia and make arrangements for her to move in that day. She arrived at The INN Between later that afternoon, wheeled up the ramp to our front door, picked the room of her choice, and started to make herself at home. Olivia lived at The INN Between for 57 days before succumbing to cancer. During that time, she was able to spend time with her three children, reconnect with her mother Cecily, and return to some sense of normalcy in life.

Since Olivia, we have had the honor and privilege to help 75 other people (now our Angels) at the end of their lives—people from backgrounds as varied as a woman who had never been homeless, a homeless engineer and former Wall Street professional, and a hard-core heroin addict who spent most of his life in and out of prison. Each person we encounter has a unique story and intrinsic value, simply by virtue of being a human being, that merits kindness, compassion, respect, and dignity at the end of life.

I am unable to mention the names of all the people who played a role in the launch of The INN Between, for the list is too long. But I am eternally grateful for their commitment to the cause and their belief in me. They seemed to have passed me from hand to hand, as if I were a pail of water in a delicate fire bucket brigade, propelling me toward the final goal.

The day I met Lloyd Pendleton, he told me to enlist the help of the Angels, a practice I have engaged in from that day forward. It is my firm belief that the Angels played the most significant role in every step along the path of The INN Between’s evolution, I eagerly anticipate the next five years, watching as our amazing team of staff and volunteers help future souls pass from this earthly realm into that of the Angels.

Have you heard the news?  The INN Between is five years old, and we want you to join in our celebration! We have so many exciting things to share - events, campaigns, and personal stories from Kim and Matilda.  Thank you for being part of our journey and success!

November 28, 2019

My Thanksgiving Story

The last Thanksgiving I spent with my entire family was in 1999. Over the next year, I would move to Utah with my husband and two young children, my grandparents would both die, my mother and I would stop speaking, my husband would lose his job, we would hit a bus and lose our car, and we would lose all our belongings for not being able to make the storage unit rent.  The last straw for my husband was when his backpack with all our money was stolen.  He took the kids and went home to California. I was working and was able to get a small truck that I stayed in, but it broke down and was eventually towed away. I'd stay in a motel when I had the money for it, but that didn’t leave much for food. I had few friends in my new city and managed a night on a couch here and there. 

That Thanksgiving found me homeless and alone. I thought about spending my paycheck on a train ticket home but my pride and fear of being turned away kept me from it. I was ashamed of myself and my life, and I couldn’t bear to think about going home and letting people see what I had become. I missed my children desperately. I could picture them with their Dad and all his family, playing with their cousins, sitting down to dinner. I wondered what they would wear and who was going to do my daughter’s hair. I wondered if they would miss me. Did they even remember Thanksgiving with me? I thought and I walked. The holiday meant no work, libraries were closed, and the buses were on a schedule unfamiliar to me. I found a place to sleep for the night and figured I’d read and sleep away the day. But as the sun went down, I got hungry. Alberto's restaurant was the only place open, so I ordered a burrito and a horchata and settled into a booth for my first Thanksgiving alone. If this were a movie, this is where my white knight would ride in or a cute family would stumble across this woman alone and invite her into their home, or her family would magically appear and take her home and everything would be okay. But the reality is that I sat alone, ate my food and prayed for the day to be over.

Today, as it snows outside, I think about that day and how alone I felt. Life got better for me, I met someone, my kids came home to me and I had two more. I have a relationship with my parents. I have a home and a safe place to sleep at night. Just over four years ago, I found The INN Between. After volunteering there for two weeks, it changed my life, became my passion, and stole a large part of my heart.

In 2015, I prepared the first Thanksgiving meal at The INN Between, and as my family and I sat down to eat at what we consider to be our second home, I was overwhelmed with gratitude. Some residents didn't participate, and I understood and respected their privacy. The holidays are a difficult time when you are homeless. There are places to go and so many people who want to help, but sometimes that hurts a little too. The holidays are a huge trigger. It’s bittersweet - I enjoy the holidays now, but I often regret what I missed out on and long for how things used to be. I am always prepared to spend a little more time listening, and I expect more than a few meltdowns.

This Thanksgiving, newly divorced, I woke up alone again. My younger kids are with their Dad, my older kids are in their own homes and navigating their first holiday since their Dad passed away a month ago. I felt sorry for myself for a minute, but there wasn’t a lot of time for that. I promised I would be at The INN Between early to help the kitchen staff prepare dinner. I walk in and am immediately greeted by our residents, my people. This Thanksgiving, we have 37 residents to feed, more than we have had in the past. In the dining room, there’s laughing, joking and anticipation for the amazing dinner we are going to have.

I head to my office to write this story, and I get a knock at my door from our kitchen manager, Kim, who is concerned about an upset resident. I walked over to his room to check on him, and he started to complain about the breakfast, which he didn’t like. But as we talk, it's clear that he's really upset because he's thinking about his mother who died years before. He angrily asked me to live one day in his shoes. Then he stopped and looked at me, and his demeaner changed. He knows my story and he can relate. He started to recall the happy holidays he spent as a child and asked me, “It will never be the same again will it?”  I tell him that it won’t, but that he is not alone. He has his family here at The INN Between. In just a few hours we’ll all be sitting down together for our meal. We will remember those we have lost, remember what was, and be glad to be together.

This is the magic of The INN Between. It rode into my life like a white knight, and now I get to help it ride into others lives, offering them a place to spend their final days, a place to recuperate, a place to feel at home and to be part of our family. At dinner we shares what we are thankful for. For myself it will be for my family, for this place, for the amazing staff that runs it, the volunteers that keep it going, the medical providers that provide such needed care, and for our residents, both those living with us now and those who have left us. And finally, I’m thankful that I don’t have to eat a burrito alone tonight. 

Happy Thanksgiving



Certified Nursing Assistant Needed - Join our Team!

Our amazing staff at The INN Between is providing a much needed service for the community and we hope that you are our newest addition to the team! Please read more about this position below and apply today.

CNAs help The INN Between’s residents by supporting personal hygiene and daily living needs and providing comfort, housekeeping, meal service and activities. CNAs also help the community by assisting with general housekeeping duties, dining room service, and sorting/organizing of supplies and donated items. The ideal candidate will have Assisted Living experience and experience working with the homeless population and persons with disabilities.


Patient Care:

  • Demonstrate compassionate bedside manner to all clients.
  • Provide personal hygiene by giving bedpans, urinals, baths, backrubs, shampoos, and shaves; assisting with travel to the bathroom; helping with showers and baths.
  • Provide for activities of daily living by assisting with serving meals, feeding patients as necessary; ambulating, turning, and positioning patients; providing fresh water and nourishment between meals.
  • Provide adjunct care by administering nonsterile dressings, ice packs, heat treatments, therapeutic baths. Maintain patient stability by checking vital signs and weight.
  • Provide patient comfort by utilizing resources and materials; answering patients' call lights and requests; reporting observations of the patient to nursing supervisor.
  • Document actions by completing forms, reports, logs, and records. Maintain work operations by following policies and procedures.
  • Protect organization's value by keeping patient information confidential.
  • Serve and protect the Assisted Living community by adhering to professional standards, policies and procedures, federal, state, and local requirements, and Utah standards.

Facility Care:

  • Support The INN Between staff and community by assisting with organizing supplies, housekeeping, reception, and other light duties.
  • Follow policies and procedures for infection control.

Personal Development:

  • Update job knowledge by participating in educational opportunities, reading professional publications, participating in professional organizations, and maintaining licensure.


  • Current CNA License
  • Med Tech certification strongly preferred
  • Assisted Living Facility experience: 1 year minimum preferred.
  • Knowledge of Electronic Record systems, we use BlueStep.


10 - hour shifts rotating night and evening, flexible $13-$16/hour


Click here to apply.
The INN Between is an Equal Opportunity employer.

December 31, 2017

2017 - A Retrospective

It was this time last year that one of our longtime residents was struggling. He had just returned from the hospital, and I had gone to say my goodbyes. He was so stubborn and hard headed that he decided wasn’t ready to die. The nurses removed the ventilator, and he came home that day. He knew his time would be short, and he used it to spend with his family and say what he needed to before it was too late.

I last saw him Christmas Eve. I walked into his room and told him I was so happy he had made it home for Christmas. He was lying down and too tired to get up. He smiled and was silent for a while, and then for the first time since I had known him, he finally admitted what he had been dodging for the past year – that his body was ready to give up. It was hard to hear, I looked up expecting to see anger or fear but instead saw a wide grin. “Thank you, I was lucky to be here and lucky to have you all,” he said. “This will be my last Christmas.” I hugged him and left him to rest. As I made my rounds through the rest of the house, I snuck back for another hug at least twice more.

I got the call in the early morning hours on December 26th. He had been out with friends and family and started struggling to breathe. They took him to the nearest hospital, where he passed away.  I miss him but am grateful that his last day was spent with loved ones. His daughter stays in touch, comes by to visit and keeps his memory alive.

Robert’s name was read at this year’s Candlelight Vigil, the community memorial service for the members of the homeless community who passed away. His was amongst 113 names, including 16 that passed away at The INN Between and a few who lived with us before passing away elsewhere

As I heard the names being read, I fondly recalled the memories of those gone. David and his love of cats. Eric who worked so hard to conquer his demons before passing peacefully in his sleep. Trudi and her amazing wardrobe. Michael and his dry wit. Fist bumping Rafi when I’d get to work in the mornings. John who had two stays with us, who we were able to connect with his daughter by phone in his final hours. Ken who couldn’t sit still at the age of 76 and was constantly on the go.

Our two Thomas’s – Thomas H, a sweet and quiet man who preferred to be alone, but when you caught him in the mood could talk your ear off, and Thomas J who had lived on the streets in my own neighborhood for over a decade. He used to ride home with me every day to go visit his friends and help at the local deli. His signature, his overalls, hang in a corner in my office, and as Thomas liked to say, “They can almost stand on their own.“

Billy – we had over a year to build our memories with Billy.  The hamburgers and fries he’d make for lunch, his games of hide and seek, Yahtzee, and my favorite, the look on his face when he’d talk about driving his beloved long-haul truck. Steven was the last person to pass, he had lived with us a year. He wanted no memorial, no obituary. We spent a lot of time with Steven at his bedside. Sometimes he would call just to have someone come up and give him a hug. I miss that. It is nice to have people stay awhile like Steven, and we get to know them well. Sometimes the stays are short, and we don’t get to learn as much about a resident. Ron, Robin, Sonya, Kimberly and Edward all lived with us for a short time before passing, but we loved them just the same, and we will remember them always.

Those names rang out to me at the vigil. These are just a few of the unique and amazing people who touched our lives in 2017. They were our friends, our family, whom we loved and cared for. In some cases, we had been the last to hear their final words, see them take their final breath. Now, they are our angels, watching over us and guiding others as the make their final transition.

As I left the vigil, I could barely feel my toes it was so bitterly cold. It was not lost on me that this is what our folks are used to, this is their life. They wouldn’t complain as they walked towards a car that could warm them up. They’d brace themselves for a whole night of trying to keep mildly comfortable. I am grateful that we were able to provide a comfortable home for so many this year. Next year, I hope we can serve even more.

Trudi was born December 28, 1951, in Zonnemaire in the Netherlands. She experienced the final seven months of her life at The INN Between, passing away peacefully in her sleep on October 1, 2017, at the age of 65.  

Trudi is survived by her only son, Michael Kirth, for whom she fought to live for as long as she could. She also leaves behind her father, stepmother, siblings, cousins, nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her mother.

Trudi moved to the United States as a young girl and graduated from Skyline High School in 1970. She worked in sales and remodeling, owning her own store for a time.

Trudi loved cats and dearly missed her cat that she lost a year ago. She often dreamed of it and hoped she would be waiting for her on the other side. She loved to collect things and surrounded herself with anything she found to be lovely. She loved to read, and she loved ice cream. Trudi was a storyteller, and if you were in a hurry, you knew better than to start a conversation with her!

Trudi was a very proud woman and kept herself busy until the day she died. She was a tough cookie, but she had a kind heart, and we will miss her dearly.

The public is invited to attend a memorial service for Trudi on Wednesday, November 8, 2017, at 11 a.m. at The INN Between, 340 S. Goshen (1040 West), Salt Lake City, Utah. Refreshments will be served following the service.

October 02, 2017

Our toughest week yet

Since I began working at The INN Between in October 2015, we had experienced one or two deaths per month. But, this week was an exception.  I had spent the whole day in the car with my family driving home from California, but I knew I wouldn't be able to lay my head on my pillow unless I stopped by The INN Between to visit Billy, give him a hug and let him know I was safely back. Billy had been our resident for more than a year. As the program director, it is my job to care for the day to day functions of the facility and the residents, so I make sure to have a good personal relationship with those in our care. Billy and I had become very close. It was after 9 p.m. when I parked my car at The INN Between.  

Mark and Kathleen, our house managers, were getting everyone settled for the night when I arrived, and they quickly let me know about our newest resident, Edward, who had arrived a few days earlier, while I was on vacation with my family. Edward was actively dying. Some of our residents come to stay with us and progress to death slowly. During the months they spend with us, they become my friends. Others are close to death when they arrive, and our job is to care for them and make sure they are safely housed and not alone when they pass. I greeted Edward with a smile and was instantly sad to realize that he was very close and I would not get to know him very well. But, I was glad that The INN Between could provide a place for him to pass comfortably. He would be well cared for during his short stay. I made the rounds quickly to visit the other residents and let Billy know I was back, and then I headed home to get some rest.

The call I was expecting came late Sunday evening – Edward had passed. I headed to The INN Between to prepare him for the mortuary and make calls to hospice and his family. When I show up in these odd hours, there is little doubt why. The atmosphere in the house changes instantly, voices become softer, hugs are quick to come by and tears are easy.

Monday arrived, and I was already tired. As I checked in with our residents, it was clear that some of them who had been feeling fine a week ago were now declining quickly. Over the next few days I informed everyone – staff and volunteers – that we needed to be extra vigilant to ensure the safety of our residents. We  needed to take extra time to just be with them and let them know that they were supported and being heard. On top of the everyday activities of running a hospice center at nearly full capacity, we handed out ice chips, swabbed mouths and held hands. I had to start difficult conversations about funeral plans and any other requests they needed fulfilled before they died. I made tough calls to families and priests. We made notes about changes in their conditions and discussed concerns with the hospice nurse.  As the week progressed, we constantly wondered what would happen next.

What happened next was I walked into the house at 5:30 a.m. Thursday. That early arrival was because Kimberlee was close to death. As I arrived, I noticed that Billy was up and trying to get out of bed. He was struggling and was about to fall, so I helped him back to bed. I told him to relax and that I would be back soon, and I went to say my goodbyes to Kimberlee.

As I sat with Kimberlee, I recalled a conversation we had a few weeks earlier when she had asked me what would happen when she was gone. So that morning, the morning she died, I told her that she was a fun addition to our house and I admired how tough she was. She had just recently started a new job in the mall and had worked up until a few days ago. As I washed her face, I reminded her she was not alone.

The house woke up to the news of Kimberlee’s death. As our house manager, Mark, made breakfast for everyone, I noticed that Robin, another recent addition to our house, was struggling with pain. The on-call hospice nurse had arrived to call Kimberlee’s death, so I asked her to check on Robin, Billy, and Sonya — all three had been struggling this week, and Sonya had been mostly bedridden and often incoherent. The nurse confirmed our feeling that we would most likely see more of our residents pass as the week progressed. We had our volunteers sit bedside with Billy and Sonya – we didn’t want them to be alone for one minute – and Mark, Kathleen (our other house manager), the House Mates (our wonderful volunteers) and I filled in to make sure the rest of the house needs were being met.

That night, my home phone rang at 9:40: Sonya had died. It was shocking that we had lost two of our residents in one day. Her last few hours had been difficult, and I was happy to see her at peace. As I recalled our time together over the last two days, she repeatedly said, “Isn’t she beautiful?” I hoped that whomever she was seeing was now greeting her with open arms.  

I began my Friday by checking in with all our residents. I offered to bring in someone for them to talk to, but they mostly liked to spend time together following a loss – usually in the smoke room – sharing stories and memories of the time they spent together. I devoted a large part of the day checking on Billy in his room and spending time with him. He had been with us for more than a year, and I had become attached to him. Around 3 p.m., I told Billy I’d be back in the morning and headed home. An hour later, I had a panic that I hadn’t said goodbye, just a “See you later.” I drove back and made sure I said what I needed to. Saying goodbye was difficult, but it was time. I left him with one of our amazing volunteers at his bedside. An hour later he was gone.

When I got home late that night I was exhausted. I felt like we had done a great job managing all of our residents in the most challenging week we ever experienced. I hoped those we lost felt how loved they were. I am proud of the peace we were able to maintain in the house and that we provided dignity to those we lost. I was thinking how easy it would be to care for Robin now because no one else was in the stages of actively dying.  

Robin passed away Saturday around 1 p.m. For the fifth time that week I said goodbye, brushed hair and washed a body. I put fresh clothes on someone and straightened the bedding around them. I called the family and held my tears back as they wept. I took a deep breath and waited for the phone to ring with a referral for a new resident. 

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