The Health Communication Research Institute, Inc.

The Health Communication Research Institute, Inc. (HCRI, Inc.), a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation, was founded in 1989 with a mission to improve communication around end-of-life issues and to reduce health disparities among underserved populations, including the homeless. Since 2015, the focus of HCRI, Inc. has been to establish Joshua's House, the first hospice house for those experiencing homelessness at the end of life on the West Coast.

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Address: 5025 J Street Suite 311
Sacramento, CA 95819
County or Parish: Sacramento
Executive Director: Marlene von Friederichs-Fitzwater
Contact Email:
Primary Phone: 916-502-0946
During its 28 years, HCRI, Inc. has been in existence, we gained a better understanding of the social determinants of diseases, social and behavioral change strategies, and strategies to reduce health and health care disparities. As a result, HCRI, Inc. has partnered with the Sierra Health Foundation to redesign the Medi-Cal application to make it more user-friendly, which resulted in a "Grantee of the Year" award for HCRI; developed, implemented and evaluated a state-wide multi-media educational campaign in 10 languages about a new managed care program for Medi-Cal beneficiaries in the State of California; and collaborated with the University of California, Davis, Comprehensive Cancer Center and six tribal medical clinics to develop, implement, and evaluate the Mother's Wisdom Breast Health Program that significantly increased mammography screening as much as 70% among Native American women in Northern California. As homelessness increased in the Sacramento area, HCRI, Inc. found that the most underserved population of all - the homeless - was experiencing more untreated serious diseases and no palliative and/or hospice care. This led to a commitment to reduce the number of terminally ill homeless dying on our streets and along our rivers.
As a community-based hospice house for those experiencing homelessness at the end of life, our primary need is to raise the funds necessary to create and furnish a residential care facility at 1501 North C Street, Sacramento, CA. We also need funding to develop supportive services/resources for the residents (art & music therapy; spiritual offerings; pet care; reconnections with families if desired; etc.). Our top needs: 1. Funding: Program - Our greatest need initially is to raise the funds needed to create and furnish Joshua's House. Estimated cost to accomplish this is $1.5 million. There are numerous naming opportunities for various levels of donations. 2. Funding: Unrestricted - We need unrestricted funding to create supportive services, training programs for staff and volunteers, and to assist with staffing costs. 3. Furniture - We will need furniture for offices, individual bedrooms, a multi-purpose room, chapel, and library. 4. Other - Please Describe - Quilts, blankets, linens, kitchen cookware, utensils, books, and personal care items. 5. Technology - Desktop computers, security systems, television sets, Internet service.
"We have an enormous number of older people who are dying homeless on our streets and along our rivers from diseases such as cancer, heart disease, HIV/AIDS, Hep C, etc.. The homeless population, like the general sheltered population, are aging and most suffer from co-morbidities that are not well managed because homeless people typically have no connection to the medical system other than emergency rooms. Hospitals can manage these patients' symptoms, but often lack the resources to discharge them anywhere other than back to the street. Without shelter, these patients cannot take advantage of hospice care and end up dying on the streets.

As the Founder/Executive Director of HCRI, Inc., I first experienced the reality of the situation while I was a professor at the University of California, Davis School of Medicine (2005-2016) and helping to connect newly diagnosed cancer patients to resources to guide them through the cancer experience with less stress and fewer physical and emotional issues. When I discovered that some of those men and women were homeless, did not have caregivers and could not receive supportive services/resources, I was heart-broken. As a cancer survivor myself, I could not imagine going through having cancer and being homeless.

In 2014, my concern turned into a passion when I lost a 34-year-old grandson, Joshua Lee, who died on the streets in Nebraska after struggling with homelessness and drug addiction for most of his adult life. He was a loving, smart and compassionate young man who wanted to help others, especially those living on the streets with serious illnesses. I retired from UCD and have focused on creating Joshua's House in his memory, the first hospice house for those experiencing homelessness at the end of life on the West Coast and the 7th in the country.

We have purchased a building at 1501 North C Street, Sacramento, CA and with the help of The Thomas Law Group, Wood Rodgers, Inc., AP Thomas Construction, Inc. and Evasion Metal Works, Inc., we will create a beautiful residential care facility that will serve 20-22 terminally ill homeless men and women at any one time. Local hospitals will provide quality hospice care and we will provide shelter, clothing, meals, a range of activities and supportive comfort care. No one should die alone on the streets or along our rivers!"

Marlene M. von Friedrichs-Fitzwater, MA, Ph.D., MPH
Founder/Executive Director
The Health Communication Research Institute, Inc. (Joshua's House)
-- Marlene M. von Friederichs-Fitzwater, Founder/Executive Director