A community self-isolation site reopened inside Evergreen Hall recently to help quell the spread of COVID-19 in Chilliwack.
BC Housing, working with Fraser Health, established a range of isolation sites across the region for homeless and those at risk of homelessness to self-isolate and recover. The spaces included rented hotel rooms, as well as converted community and civic spaces like Evergreen Hall, near downtown Chilliwack.
“The Evergreen Hall community isolation space initially closed on June 8, 2020, because the space was not being fully utilized,” said Henry Glazebrook, spokesperson for BC Housing, in response to emailed queries.
COVID-19 case numbers were on the rise locally around Christmas, with an outbreak that spread among the homeless population staying at local shelters.
The Evergreen Hall site re-opened on Jan. 18, to address “an increased demand for isolation space” and to help physically spread out shelter residents who were recovering without hospitalization.
“Community isolation sites are critical to support our healthcare and emergency response workers, as well as people who are vulnerable, such as those who are experiencing homelessness,” Glazebrook added.
The space is operated by Ruth and Naomi’s Mission, with 25 beds which are referral-only through Fraser Health.
“We understand this is an unprecedented use of a community centre, but this initiative is part of our collective efforts to try to prevent the spread of the virus and mitigate the demand on our healthcare system,” the rep for BC Housing said
An outbreak in COVID-19 infections was officially declared at the Portal shelter run by RAN in early January 2021. At one point 27 residents had tested positive, and 12 staff. Some who tested positive were put up in local hotel rooms to recover, like the individuals staying in shelters before Christmas.
“Other spaces are for patients being discharged from hospitals who do not have COVID-19 and who do not need emergency care, but still require ongoing health care – freeing up much needed beds in hospitals.”
The isolation site inside Evergreen Hall first opened last spring, with the collaboration of RAN, City of Chilliwack, Fraser Health, BC Housing, MCFD, as well as Salvation Army, Cyrus Centre and more. It was seen as a testament to how quickly Chilliwack came together as a community when it became one of only five such isolation facilities in B.C. at the time.
Those in isolation in COVID recovery can’t come and go as they please. There is staff on-site 24/7, as well as security personnel. Sections are “polyed” off with plastic material for testing, for sleeping, for showers and changing and more.
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