May 7, 2020

Weekly Community Update Re: COVID-19

Greetings friends,

Tonight, city landmarks will light up in orange in support of all homeless-serving agencies and front-line essential workers. We’re so honoured to be recognized among this group, and as I’ve said all along, we truly feel the support of the community behind us and the rest of our partners in the sector. (And what a wonderful feeling that is!) Thank you to the City of Calgary for this thoughtful gesture.

I am also thrilled to report there have been no additional positive cases of COVID-19 since I reported the 5 cases last week. In fact, one of these individuals has already recovered. There are still no confirmed cases among DI employees. We thank the community for their support, and we appreciate the swift action from Alberta Health Services, Safeworks and Alberta Public Health who ensured everyone was promptly tested.

Summary of What the DI Has Done to Date

*New* Week of May 7th Update:

  • Since March 1st, our housing team has supported 87 people to move into a home of their own.
  • On Giving Tuesday, the community came together and we raised more than $79,000 from 275 donors. (Thank you!)
  • We continue to refine our processes, respond to overdoses, and require all visitors, staff and clients of the main building to wear a mask.
  • Because we are declared an outbreak site, we were required to increase our screening at the front entrance. To limit the spread, we were only able to permit individuals who had already stayed at the main shelter between April 16 – 26. This has contributed to a decrease in our shelter numbers, which in turn, has helped us with physical distancing in our building.

Week of May 1 Update:

  • As of this moment, we’ve learned of 5 confirmed cases of COVID-19 among people who regularly shelter at our main shelter site on Dermot Baldwin Way. These 5 individuals are receiving the care they need in hospital or at the Assisted Social Isolation Site (ASIS).
  • Safeworks and Alberta Health Services came on site and began testing all clients in our main emergency shelter just hours later we heard confirmation. (Thank you to these health care professionals for supporting us!)
  • Out of 300+ swabs, we have confirmation about 5 positive results to date. We are grateful this number is relatively low and we have increased our efforts of screening, cleaning, physical distancing and PPE use.
  • All DI employees who had been in the main building between the dates April 16 – 26 have been contacted to be tested for COVID-19, and as of this moment, there have been no confirmed positive cases among staff.
  • In our main shelter, everyone in the building is required to wear a mask at all times.
  • In the month of April, we reversed a total of 42 overdoses, adding an additional layer of complexity and trauma to an already challenging pandemic.
  • In the month of April, we connected 25 people to their own homes.

Week of April 24 Update:

  • We have put physical distancing measures in place throughout each shelter, including our dining areas at our main shelter.
  • We have increased capacity in our health services department by hiring 21 LPNs.
  • We continue to refine our processes for personal protective equipment and cleaning in all our buildings.
  • We have reversed 46 overdoses this month in our main shelter.
  • Since April 1, we have housed 15 people living in shelter and our housing specialists are working very hard with a goal to house 250 people in the next couple of months. In order to do this, we need affordable suites. If you or someone you know has a unit available, please email us at landlords@thedi.ca.

Week of April 17 Update:

  • We have changed how we operate each floor in our main shelter to decrease the amount of travel taking place throughout the building and address physical distancing.
  • Temperature checks and hand-washing became mandatory for all visitors entering our building.
  • We have changed the curfew to 9 p.m. at Calgary TELUS Convention Centre.
  • We have picked up where we left off on our housing strategy, and we are actively seeking landlords to partner with for clients whose barrier to housing is financial. We hope that all clients in our satellite shelters never have to return to our main shelter, because they’ll have their very own home by then.

Week of April 9 Update:

  • We assisted nearly 200 people move to the TELUS Convention Centre (CTCC).
  • The TELUS Convention Centre is a satellite shelter for assigned DI clients only – it is not a drop-in shelter.
    • Meals, bathrooms, showers and coffee are available.
    • The curfew is 9 p.m. and there’s designated smoking areas 24/7.
  • Through the generous support of our community partner CUPS, we welcomed a lead physician who will be supporting health services at the DI.
  • With gratitude, we congratulated the Calgary Homeless Foundation, The Alex, and CUPS with the opening of the city’s assisted self-isolation site for the homeless population and have developed processes to support our clients who may require access to these spaces.
  • We cancelled our Kindness Open fundraiser, previously scheduled for mid-June.

Week of April 2 Update:

  • We partnered with Calgary TELUS Convention Centre (CTCC) for our second satellite shelter funded by the Government of Alberta. This 24/7 space will shelter up to 300 men (no women) and will allow us to reduce our main shelter capacity by 50%.
  • We launched our Medical Volunteer opportunity on our website.
  • We made it mandatory that all clients and staff wash their hands or use hand sanitizer each time they enter any DI operated building (i.e. main shelter, 2507, TELUS Convention Centre, donation centre, Sundial, Greenview Rise, and Bridgeland Manor).
  • In March, we reversed 49 overdoses.

Week of March 26 Update:

  • We opened our 24/7 satellite shelter for 56 people.
  • We began screening clients for symptoms before they enter the building at our front gate, this is another preventative measure to make sure we don’t have an outbreak in the shelter. This is why our gate is currently closed.
  • We gained the support of Safeworks, CUPS, Alberta Health Services and several volunteer medical professionals. (Thank you!)
  • We limited our drop-in and meal service program to people who sleep at the emergency shelter only.
  • We changed our overdose and emergency response protocol to prohibit the use of bagged valves, rescue breaths, chest compressions and other high-contact CPR actions. Staff are to put on PPE, administer Naloxone and call 911.
  • We hired more than 60 staff in various departments, and we continue to recruit.

Week of March 20 Update:

  • We increased our cleaning schedule prioritizing high risk areas.
  • We closed non-essential programs and services to decrease the amount of people in our buildings and repurpose staff to priority services.
  • We cancelled external volunteer programming for all opportunities.
  • We adjusted our donation program and acquired C Can containers to quarantine donations before they’re in circulation.
  • We put hand-washing stations throughout the building thanks to a generous donation from Calgary Municipal Land Corporation (CMLC).
  • We designated an observation wing on 4thfloor for current clients with suspected symptoms of COVID-19, they wait in this space until their tests results come back.
For more information, please contact us:
Phone: 403-852-0470