Decades on the drawing board, the Reuben Engagement Center opened its doors in January to help people experiencing homelessness in Indianapolis detox.
Chief of Indianapolis Emergency Medical Services, Dr. Charles Miramonti oversees the staff for the center. He says the ongoing challenge is building relationships with homeless outreach advocates who fear their clients will end up back on the street instead of in housing or a treatment program.
“That stuff is very challenging and to get the contracts for all that is challenging, and who are the points and what are the outcomes and what are the performance measures we’re going to say is a reasonable contract or a good relationship? All that stuff has been proven to be incredibly challenging to go quickly on – so that’s been some of our struggle,” Miramonti says.
The Engagement Center is also looking for a new executive director. Carl Rochelle resigned about a month ago.
The city funded facility has helped about 250 unique individuals experiencing homelessness detox since it opened. Interim executive director Chuck Ford says there’s been a big learning curve – but people are getting help.
“Close to 90 percent actually leave the center within a day or two and get into some type of addiction treatment, or housing or therapy – or whatever they need," Ford says. "So we’ve had a pretty good success rate with lining people up with the appropriate resource. They don’t always stay with that resource and sometimes they bounce back to us.”
The center is designed with a 30 patient maximum – 20 from the homeless community and 10 from IMPD. Ford says on a typical night there are eight to 12 people detoxing.
Miramonti says they’re still working with IMPD to creating policies on how best to get inebriated, non-violent subjects into the center and he hopes to design agreements with emergency departments at all the hospitals for the same purpose.