Dennis was referred to Catholic Charities by Our Lord of Glory Church. He was disoriented, confused, and it was unclear if substance abuse issues were present. When Dennis arrived at Catholic Charities Marian House, it was lunchtime. He walked in and told staff he needed a case manager. M.J., a Catholic Charities Client Services case manager, set an appointment for the next day. During their brief conversation, she learned he was staying at the Salvation Army R.J. Montgomery shelter.
Dennis arrived for his appointment the next day and told M.J. he had gotten a case manager at Salvation Army. Thinking services could be coordinated, M.J. asked for the name of his case manager. He couldn’t remember but had her business card, which was the one M.J. had given him the previous day, so she let him know that she was his case manager. Dennis stated that he needed to get off the streets. He had no one to help him, and people kept taking his possessions, including his SNAP benefits card. The Department of Human Services was called, and a new card was sent to the Marian House. M.J. also helped Dennis complete the housing assessment (VI-SPDAT), a vulnerability index that determines who gets a housing voucher when one becomes available. She also suggested he meet with our on-site medical providers.
Jason, the SET Homeless Clinic Coordinator, met with Dennis and confirmed he had Medicaid benefits; however, he had not been seen since 2017. There had been a diagnosis of schizophrenia and a Traumatic Brain Injury from getting hit by a vehicle in 2014, which explained some of Dennis’s behavior. He began seeing a doctor from Penrose-Centura Health to begin a Primary Care Physician relationship.
Next, a meeting was scheduled with the Colorado Community Health Alliance, SET, Penrose-St. Francis Community Faith Nurse and Catholic Charities to complete an assessment. During the meeting, it became apparent Dennis would need additional care, so appointments were scheduled with Impact Psychiatric Care (July), Neurological Associates (August), Brain Body Integration (October), and an eye exam (June) as Dennis had lost his glasses. Dennis shared that his Social Security (SSI) payments had stopped, so an appointment was set up with Benefits In Action, who discovered the benefits had stopped because he had not responded to their mail to confirm his address. He would need to reapply but would need his ID and birth certificate first. An appointment was set with the Department of Motor Vehicles for August. Once the new identification card was obtained, Catholic Charities applied for a copy of his birth certificate.
Adult Protective Services was called, and a case manager was assigned who attends these group meetings to ensure Dennis’ safety and to help with Dennis’s long-term care. During this time, Dennis continued to live on the streets. He had found a spot where he felt safe because he says, “I was on the security camera and knew that if something happened to me, it would be recorded.”
Next, Dennis had an intake with The Resource Exchange for more wrap-around service opportunities, and they connected him with Rocky Mountain PACE (Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly) to pursue assisted living possibilities, but he needed his SSI benefits. Catholic Charities and Dennis met with SSI and found his case had been reopened for review, but no decision had been made for reinstating benefits.
He comes to Catholic Charities daily to receive a hot meal and check in with his case manager. Recently he came in very distraught. He said, “I can’t remember anything, and people keep taking my things.” M.J. asked if he would like to go to the Community Stabilization Unit with AspenPointe – a 24-hour care/safety resource to decompress – to speak with a professional therapist. Dennis said he did and was given bus vouchers to get to the unit. When following up with his AspenPoint case manager, M.J. learned Dennis had calmed down and was ready to come back to Catholic Charities.
Since May, more than 18 human service and government agencies have diligently worked together to help Dennis. He has attended all his appointments, despite memory loss, which speaks to his determination to get the help he knows he needs. There are times when Dennis forgets our names, but he knows our faces. At times, he knows he has a meeting but does not remember what the meeting is about. Nevertheless, once in the meetings, he does very well, occasionally going off-topic or having difficulty completing a linear train of thought.
He recalls better times when he would cook or steep hibiscus tea using a real flower he would purchase from Natural Grocers. In the end, he says, “I want to get my life back. I just want a happy life.” That is what we want for Dennis as well, as we continue to advocate for his needs.