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Safeguarding Homeless People with Covid-19 Testing

01.07.2020, 08:55

Safeguarding Homeless People with Covid-19 Testing

Harris Health System’s “Health Care for the Homeless Program” has received US $1.3 million of federal funding to support SARS-CoV-2 testing and care for up to 1,000 vulnerable individuals I homeless shelter clinics across Harris County in Houston, Texas.

The program addresses the needs of a largely underserved population which is estimated at 3,900 people in Houston by the not-for-profit Coalition for the Homeless.

Tests have already been carried out at homeless shelters, Lord of the Streets and Open Door Mission, with persons suspected of being infected with the virus or who test positive directed to quarantine through the Houston/Harris County Joint Homeless Medical Isolation Recovery Center where they are provided with temporary housing, food and healthcare support for a period of up to 14 days.

Federal funding in the form of a grant was made by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA), an agency of the United States Department of Health and Human Services to provide homeless individuals with physical examinations, treatments and medication – as well as psychiatric support during quarantine.

The HRSA grants comprise of Health Center Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act Funding (US $942,890), Expanding Capacity for Coronavirus Testing (US $252,664) and Coronavirus Supplemental Funding for Health Centers (US $78,995).

Tracey Burdine, director of Health Care for the Homeless at the company, says: “It is important that we focus our efforts on testing the homeless during this pandemic because this population is particularly susceptible to contracting the virus.

“A large percentage of the homeless suffers from multiple chronic medical conditions, exposure to the elements and minimal access to facilities for hygiene maintenance, which increases the risk of mortality.

“Our plan is to test at all the locations where Harris Health serves the homeless population,” he adds. “However, we have agreed to assist the City of Houston and test locations which they have identified as potential hot spots.

“COVID-19 has the potential to spread at an alarming rate within this community due to living in communal spaces.”

Harris Health is also preparing to undertake testing in homeless encampments, with a site near the Star of Hope Men’s Development Center and Minute Maid Park in downtown Houston (under Interstate 69) having already been identified as a target by the program.

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Staff Reporter covers the latest news, trends and opinion from the facilities management (FM) and corporate real estate (CRE) sectors. The FM market is currently estimated to be worth USD 1 trillion annually and is projected to grow at a compounded annualised rate of approximately 5% between now and 2026.

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