The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) warn a COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak could last for weeks or even months in a community. Based on the current increase of confirmed cases of coronavirus, the Shreveport-Bossier Rescue Mission is taking the following measures to protect our guests and reduce the spread of the virus.
“The Mission is in communication with our local public health department regarding the spread of the virus,” said Pastor Larry Otwell, Executive Director. “We have a contingency plan and flexible policies and procedures in place to accommodate public health recommendations.”
During this time, the Mission has increased our intake from Monday through Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. to 24 hours daily. With the increased intake hours, individuals who suddenly find themselves in need of the Mission will not have to wait for safe shelter. We have been in contact with the local health department and have adjusted our intake process to meet their recommended guidelines. The Mission’s staff is regularly identifying homeless guests to see who may have symptoms of coronavirus. Guests are assessed individually in a quarantine staging area. They are also regularly assessing any guest who falls within the CDC high risk category particularly those who are older and have underlying health conditions and putting protective measures in place for those individuals.
“Many of our guests have compromised immune systems and are very vulnerable, so we take every precaution to avoid outbreaks of illness within our walls,” Otwell said. “Our guests who are elderly or disabled are top of mind as we consider our response to an outbreak like the coronavirus.”
Currently, no guest or staff member at the Mission has displayed symptoms or has been diagnosed with coronavirus. Mission officials say guests who present symptoms will be quarantined in a dedicated sick room. “We will contact the public health department and follow its recommendations. The Mission has already put social distancing measures in place. All guests are spread out in our dining hall. Volunteer services and nonessential operations such as our Thrift Store and Donation Pickup service have been temporarily suspended. And guests are asked to only leave for things that are absolutely necessary such as essential work. Our guests understand that everything is in place for their safety and they have happily complied with these measures,” said Otwell.
The Mission shelter and other areas are routinely disinfected as part of its daily maintenance protocol with hospital grade cleaning supplies. “Now we are doubling down on everyday practices such as thoroughly washing hands, practicing social distancing, covering coughing or sneezing with a tissue, and avoiding touching eyes and face. We are also committed to stocking our shelves with the supplies needed to keep our guests and staff and safe.”
“Our community cares so much for those who are hurting and in need,” Otwell said. “We know we can count on our supporters to wrap their hearts and arms around us during this critical time to make sure we are prepared for the duration of the COVID-19 outbreak. We are an essential service. We cannot close. This is our guests’ home.”
For the safety of everyone in our community and for our guests, the Mission is only accepting essential hard to get donations at this time. The Mission is asking for donations of liquid soap, hand sanitizer, tissues, toilet paper, and paper towels. These items can be ordered from the Mission’s Amazon Wish List which is found on the Mission’s website at www.sbrescuemission.com. “We know items may be out of stock but we encourage our community to keep checking as the supply chain grows,” says Otwell.
Monetary donations are essential and is the best way to help during this time. If you have the means to do so, you can donate to the Mission online at www.sbrescuemission.com.