The City of Nanaimo announced last week that the Province and the City agreed to use a portion of 285 Prideaux Street (Community Services Building) to operate an Emergency Response Centre (ERC). ICCS was chosen to operate the new Emergency Response Centre and we expect to begin offering the service after essential renovations are made to the building to ensure hygiene (showers), safety, and administrative services can be provided.
BC Housing said that Emergency Response Centres are, “vital in preventing the spread of COVID-19 as they allow us to spread out the number of people in existing shelters, free-up acute care beds in hospitals, and prevent crowding.”
Approximately 8,200 square feet of space will be used at 285 Prideaux St. (pictured above) to provide up to 35 beds with adequate space for safe distancing, and additional services as outlined by the province’s community-based response plans.
ICCS has seen and responded to the need for emergency shelter in Nanaimo and Parksville for over 30 years and in the last 6 weeks we have gained new appreciation for our front-line workers and managers who have responded with confidence and determination to continue our essential services.
We believe that ICCS was chosen because of our experience and capacity and look forward to expanding our team to meet this current crisis.
The ERC was initiated due to the COVID-19 outbreak. Samaritan House services will be temporarily transferred to this location. This will allow our experienced and knowledgeable Samaritan House staff to meet the needs of both the current Samaritan House clients, and clients of the new emergency program. How long the program will be housed in the ERC is unknown at this time, but measures are in place to enhance the safety of women prior to the opening of beds for men.
The primary focus of the service will be individual and community safety. The Samaritan House team will continue to support shelter and supportive housing clients and will bring the same diligence and care to new clients. The new spaces are designated for vulnerable individuals who are at high risk of contracting and spreading Covid-19.
The service will not act, as some reports have suggested, as a quarantine or assessment locations. Island Health will continue to offer assessment and quarantine services in other locations in the community. ERC beds could be used 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.
This initiative was made possible by the collaboration of multiple levels of government and essential feedback from the Nanaimo Homeless Coalition. The Coalition is made up of individuals and community groups including the United Way, the Tillicum Lelum Friendship Society, the Salvation Army, The Unitarian Shelter, SEIA, Nanaimo Region John Howard Society, Vancouver Island Mental Health Society, CMHA Mid-Island, and ICCS.
We deeply appreciate the work and ongoing support of the Coalition who have drafted a community COVID-19 Emergency Shelter Response plan.