UGM’s Response to Cases of COVID-19

Blog Updated: October 18, 2020 at 8:ooPM

The wellbeing of our guests and community means everything to us. The 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, volunteer or visitor. Because our community means the world to us, we are sharing that we are responding to cases of COVID-19 at our Downtown Eastside location, and are taking swift action. 

Recently Confirmed Cases as of October 18th, 2020: 

  • We have received notification that an Outreach staff member who works with guests at our 601 East Hastings Facility and its Emergency Shelter has tested positive for COVID-19. The individual’s last workday was October 16th. This valued staff member is now receiving care and guidance from health authorities, and is currently taking precautions by self-isolating. This staff member will not be returning to work until cleared by health workers, but UGM is responding swiftly and taking additional steps to keep our community safe in our shelter and throughout our organization. Health authorities have affirmed our current health and safety protocols. We are working internally, and with health workers, to determine any possible close contacts. Any other community members who need to be notified of possible contact will be notified.
  • On October 15th we were notified that a staff member who works in the 601 Hastings Shelter tested positive for COVID-19. Their last shift was October 12th. They will not be returning to work until they are well and have been cleared by VCH. We believe there is a low risk the virus could have spread, and health authorities have affirmed our current health and safety protocols. UGM is responding swiftly and taking additional steps to keep our community safe.
  • One other current active case is a resident at 601 E Hastings. The resident is receiving care from health authorities and daily meals from UGM while self-isolating. Two others are self-isolating as a precaution.  Health authorities have affirmed our current safety protocols and we believe the risk is low of any transmission. We are working internally, and with the health authority, to determine any possible close contacts.  Any other community members who need to be notified of possible contact will be notified.

Our thoughts and prayers are with these community members. Anyone else who may be at risk of any transmission, if any, will be contacted by the health authority. For the privacy and dignity of our community, we cannot share these individuals’ identities, but we can tell you that we will be following directions of the health authority, and reviewing how to best proceed or amend our operations in order to best protect the wellbeing of our guests. Any changes will be communicated in the coming days or weeks if and when we’re able.

UGM facility

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 measures to keep our community safe.

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.
    • Making PPE available for all staff, executing a deep clean of all relevant areas and our 601 East Hastings facility, and enhancing sanitation efforts across the board.
    • Reducing the number of staff on premises at UGM, 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 tenants and 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 ammend our operations in order to best protect the wellbeing of our community 
    • Implementing engineering controls throughout UGM to create space and plexiglass barriers in high traffic areas

As COVID-19 forced many other organizations to scale down, the compassionate support of people like you means that UGM has been able to step up 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:

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 
    • 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.
    • 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 
    • 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.

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

We plan to rely on health recommendations moving forward and advise anyone with questions to contact Vancouver Coastal Health or other public health officials for all COVID-19 information. 

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

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