COLORADO SPRINGS — Agencies across the Pikes Peak Region came together to establish a shelter for people infected with COVID-19 who don’t have a home.
The Homeless Isolation Shelter is located inside the Downtown Colorado Springs City Auditorium and has been up and running since April 6th.
“Our homeless neighbors often have high prevalence of chronic conditions and suppressed immune systems that make them them particularly vulnerable to a sever course of illness if they get infected with coronavirus,” Medical Advisor, Dr. Heather Cassidy said.
The shelter has 70 beds inside but capacity at the shelter can be expanded to 100 people, if needed. So far, the site sees anywhere from five to six people a night. Nursing care and health services are provided.
“It sends a clear message, we care about these individuals, about human life and we care about this community,” CEO/Director of Community Partnerships Amber Ptak said.
The shelter made possible through a community-wide effort, with multiple agencies stepping up to the plate to provide meals, clean clothing, and transportation.
Local nonprofit Envida is providing rides from hospitals and shelters and is helping EMS staff as well.
“It is important for us to help each other do whatever you can for someone,” Envida driver, Jim Guggenbiller said.
“It’s really an honor to be part of a group of people wanting to protect their community and that includes people experiencing homelessness and all of us staying at home, we want to not stay at home as soon as possible and it’s our contribution to this effort,” Envida CEO Gail Nehls said.
It’s important to note, the isolation shelter is not a medical center. As of now, the shelter doesn’t offer testing and it’s reserved for those who don’t have a home, don’t require emergency care, and simply need a place to stay until they get better. Dr. Cassidy says the City of Colorado Springs, El Paso County, and its partners are doing their part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among our most vulnerable population.
“Many other communities across the country have had 20,30, 70 people in their homeless shelters become infected with the coronavirus many of those infections are fatal, thank goodness we haven’t seen that here,” Dr. Cassidy said.
Collaborative partners include:
- PPOEM/City of Colorado Springs provides access to the city auditorium for the isolation shelter and developed partnerships with Springs Rescue Mission, Zactly Staffing Solutions, and CU School of Medicine.
- Community Health Partnership coordinates the Pikes Peak Continuum of Care and is providing coordination of the isolation shelter.
- Zactly Employment Solutions is providing certified nursing assistants 24/7 and a licensed practical nurse 12 hours per day at the isolation shelter.
- CU School of Medicine medical students are providing telehealth capabilities at the isolation shelter 24/7 daily, responding to questions from isolation shelter staff, Springs Rescue Mission, RJ Montgomery, and The Place.
- El Paso County Public Health developed homeless isolation shelter recommendations and isolation plan and helped secure PPE.
- Catholic Charities is providing two sack meals daily to include breakfast and lunch.
- Springs Rescue Mission is providing staff to manage and monitor the isolation shelter, as well as evening meals as needed.
- Envida is providing transportation from hospitals and shelters and will support EMS-requested transports.
- Centura Health and UCHealth will screen and refer individuals to the isolation center.
- Goodwill Industries donated clean clothing for shelter residents.
- Pikes Peak Library District provided books, DVDs and Chromebooks for shelter residents.
To learn more about the shelter click here.
The shelter is located at the City Auditorium at 221 E. Kiowa St.