A separate building for isolation is in the works for Rotary House clients. Executive Director Kathy Lambert says an isolation room is available for those who use the shelter and are feeling under the weather, but the shelter is taking precautions in case a larger space is needed. It has also had a few staff members self-isolate due to sickness.
“We’re working with the City and the province to find an alternate location so that we are following the social distancing procedure.”
Lambert adds Rotary House is being extra cautious to protect its vulnerable residents. The organization has asked anyone who has travelled outside of Canada, has COVID-19 symptoms, or has been in contact with someone who has tested positive not to donate items, and is unable to accept volunteers until further notice.
“Right now we’re on lockdown; no visitors or volunteers are coming in,” Lambert says.
The Saint Lawrence Centre, operating out of the Rotary House, is also implementing safety precautions to ensure the safety of visitors and staff. Project Lead Jared Gossen says cleanliness has been a huge focus for the daytime shelter, largely thanks to a recent donation of handwashing stations. It has also eliminated communal spots and has staff serving items such as coffee instead.
“Usually the front door of the centre is wide open and people come and go as they please. We’re slowing that down; you have to be let in just so we know we are serving the individuals that we know are staying at the mat program or outside.”
Gossen adds, to keep numbers down, some visitors and volunteers are being turned away. The number of visitors allowed into the daytime program is now around 25 people per day.
“A lot of the folks we serve are very used to spending time outside,” he notes. “We have had a lot of conversation that if you do have a spot to hang out instead of drop-in right now until the weather turns it might be safer for you outside.”
The shelters are working closely with provincial and regional partners to install screening tests to reduce the possible spread of COVID-19. Gossen says both the shelter and the City of Grande Prairie are currently working on strong isolation protocols, but couldn’t give more details.
The Saturday Supper Program has also been closed until further notice.