Each person who walks through the door is checked for symptoms by answering a list of questions. Depending on your answers, a temperature check could follow.
“Just to see how you feel today,” Michels said. “We found that this really does help remove people from this community who are not doing well.”
They have also worked with the county to relocate people who need to be quarantined and isolated.
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“We are able to identify people who are sick right now and we can remove them from this community and send them to the relief center where they can get medical treatment, care and testing,” she said.
Michels believes some may be reluctant to enter an emergency shelter due to COVID-19. However, the organization reports only 114 positive cases among customers in location-based programs, including emergency shelters, lodging and contact points.
The number of positive cases corresponds to about one percent of the customers they serve in these programs.
According to Catholic charities, they care for about 1,000 people a day on the Dorothy Day campus alone.
“This is a really dense campus with a lot of people,” said Michels. “Ramsey County Public Health ran busy weekly tests over the holidays to make sure we were really able to keep track of things, and we got positive results in the ones and twos on campus, but nothing really beyond that found . ”
Precautions have been taken across campus. Chairs will be set up in the cafeteria to encourage social distancing during meals.
Those who live in the shelter or who are not cared for are served in the cafeteria. In the meantime, people staying in an apartment on campus will have meals and groceries delivered to their unit on a weekly basis.
Offices for organizations providing mental health, employment, financial and other services are also currently empty.
“The building is about a year old, and when it was built it was meant to be a partner resource hub where we would have county partners, other nonprofit partners providing other services,” said Michels. “It really should be a one-stop-shop and unfortunately we never had the opportunity to maximize these partnerships due to COVID.”
Michels is looking forward to vaccinating its customers, which is expected to start this week. You determine the prioritization based on the MDH and county guidelines.
She said many of the people they work with are struggling with the isolation of the pandemic.
“For people who do not have a permanent roof over their heads and do not have meaningful connections to essential medical services and services for the treatment of their chemical and mental health, it becomes for us from day to day a deep foundation that people really have problems” said Michels, whose team also battles fatigue. “I want people to understand that the people we serve on our campus and those who suffer from homelessness are someone and have value and deserve the best possible care and crisis response we can give them.”