UGM’s Response to Cases of COVID-19

COVID-19 Vaccination Clinic

Feature photo: A UGM community member receives a COVID-19 vaccination at UGM on Jan 29th

Blog Updated: May 14, 2021

The wellbeing and safety of every single person who passes through our doors is always our top concern, now more than ever—whether it’s a guest, resident, donor, staff member, volunteer, or visitor. Because our community means the world to us, we are sharing that we are responding to cases of COVID-19 in our community, and taking new steps to heighten our safety protocols.

We are thrilled to share that we have now hosted multiple COVID-19 Vaccination Clinics for our valued community members at UGM. Health Authorities from Vancouver Coastal Health set up mobile clinics in our space, where hundreds of community members received a vaccine, many with big smiles and sighs of relief.

We are beyond excited. Our cherished community members have fewer layers of defence against COVID-19
lacking basic access to handwashing, safe homes to self-isolate, and the opportunity to socially distance. On top of this, many in our community have underlying health conditions that make them more vulnerable to COVID-19. Health authorities have repeatedly said that people in the Downtown Eastside are more likely to be hospitalized because of COVID-19 than the general population, so these initial vaccinations in the Downtown Eastside are a welcome new line defence against a deadly threat. Eligibility for these vaccines was determined by Vancouver Coastal Health, and many of those vaccinated are staying in our shelter, experiencing homelessness, or relying on UGM for meals and support.  We are grateful to host a vaccine clinic that could save countless lives and will be willing to host more clinics in the future, whenever the time comes as determined by health authorities.

Recent Cases as of May 14, 2021: 

  • We have received word that a community member who’d last stayed in our shelter on May 12th recently tested positive for COVID-19. They are now receiving care from health authorities and any additional close contacts will be notified.

Our earnest hope is that our staff and community members make a full recovery. We are constantly reviewing how to adjust our operations to best protect our guests and community. Health authorities have affirmed our current health and safety protocols and we continue to take extra precautions to ensure well-being of our staff and community. Past and current cases of COVID-19 are not considered an outbreak by health authorities. Important updates will be found on this webpage, if and when they become available. 

UGM facility

Safety Steps

We are dedicated to ensuring the safety of our guests, many of whom rely on UGM for meals, shelter, and safety daily for survival. Their lives are on the line, and we will continue to serve them with dignity and respect through new extra safety measures.

Our Emergency Management Team is responding swiftly to minimize any risk of transmission and keep our guests safe. These include but are not limited to:  

  • Following health recommendations of the health authority.
  • All staff that are able to work from home, must work from home
  • Staff must wear masks when they are indoors at UGM, including in shared office spaces as per Dr. Henry’s new expectation that everyone wears masks while in indoor public spaces. Staff who are working closely with other staff will wear medical masks instead of cloth masks for increased protection.
  • In addition to masks, all staff must wear protective eyewear (goggles or face shields) when working outside their office.
  • Making PPE available for all staff and tenants, executing a deep clean of all relevant areas and our 601 East Hastings facility, and enhancing sanitation efforts across the board.
  • Implementing social distancing measures, and continuing to screen guests for any symptoms while working with health authorities to best care for those in need. 
  • Making masks available for guests who request one
  • Notifying our staff and residents on how to prevent and recognize COVID-19
  • Following UGM’s pandemic plan.
  • Reviewing how to best proceed or amend our operations in order to best protect the wellbeing of our community. 
  • Implementing engineering controls throughout UGM to create space and Plexiglas barriers in high traffic areas
  • Adjusting shelter operations to protect guests. UGM is fortunate that our shelter was designed specifically with dignity and illness control in mind. Still, we are implementing more social distancing as possible in our shelter to space guests further apart in separate rooms and separate floors. We are also screening guests for COVID-19 symptoms to ensure our shelter is a safe refuge and will be referring any severely sick patients to 9-1-1.
  • Instead of gathering hundreds of people inside our dining room together, we are offering hot meals ‘to-go’ in biodegradable containers through our doors and serving hundreds more. This reduces risk and follows the advice of health authorities to limit public gatherings.

As COVID-19 forced many organizations to scale down, the compassionate support of people like you means that UGM has been able to fill critical gaps. We’ve increased emergency supports for low-income families and are maintaining our most essential life-saving programs like meals, emergency shelter, and housing:

  • Dramatically increasing delivery of food hampers to vulnerable families by 500% from our pre-pandemic levels. Find out more at https://www.ugm.ca/covid19-most-needed/ 
  • Being there for those who are on the fringes of our society through our Mobile Mission, providing extra food, hygiene items, outdoor gear, connection, and health information, as we’re seeing over twice as many people camping out in hard-to-reach places than before the pandemic 
  • Having our Cornerstone Drop-in Centre open for a few hours in the afternoons with social distancing measures so our guests have a place to rest and connect during the day 

There may be more information in the coming days about these cases of COVID-19 or other developments. We will provide further information if and when possible.

We will rely on health recommendations moving forward and advise anyone with questions to contact your local health authority for all COVID-19 information. 

We appreciate your continued prayers and support as we face this ever-changing situation.

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