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Edmonton EXPO Centre homeless shelter to have drop-in, COVID-19 health care services

A temporary health centre to support the vulnerable through the COVID-19 pandemic is set to open Monday evening at the Edmonton EXPO Centre.
A temporary health centre to support the vulnerable through the COVID-19 pandemic is set to open Monday evening at the Edmonton EXPO Centre. Courtesy / City of Edmonton

The Edmonton EXPO Centre is set to officially open as a temporary health centre Monday night and drop-in centre Tuesday morning. The space will help vulnerable people through the COVID-19 pandemic.

The announcement that the centre would be used to support Edmonton’s homeless through the public health crisis was made by Premier Jason Kenney last Friday

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Kenney says Edmonton Expo Centre will be used for vulnerable population

It will be jointly run by the city, Alberta Community and Social Services, Alberta Health Services, Homeward Trust and community partners.

There were be two different options for homeless support at the EXPO Centre: The first is a drop-in centre, open between 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week. It will be in a large space allowing for social distance. The drop-in space will provide overflow for other Edmonton drop-in facilities that have had to limit their capacity due to COVID-19, the city said in a news release.

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Homeward Trust will mainly operate the drop-in aspect of the EXPO Centre, along with the Bissell Centre, Boyle Street Community Services, and several other local organizations.

READ MORE: Edmonton social agencies preparing as coronavirus cases climb

The newly opened drop-in centre will not be operating as an overnight option for individuals who don’t require health services.

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The EXPO Centre’s second purpose will be for those who need health attention due to COVID-19. A separate portion of the facility has been converted into a 24/7 isolation shelter, which will be a space for Edmontonians experiencing homelessness to self-isolate or recover if they have been exposed to the virus.

The isolation shelter will be run by the Boyle McCauley Health Centre, with support from AHS.

Beds at the 24/7 isolation centre at the Edmonton EXPO Centre will be spaced out to allow for social distancing.
Beds at the 24/7 isolation centre at the Edmonton EXPO Centre will be spaced out to allow for social distancing. Courtesy / City of Edmonton

The city said it is working out details for transportation from hospitals to the isolation centre.

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The government provided $25 million dollars in funding for COVID-19 homeless centres to be operated around the province, including the EXPO Centre.

Edmonton Mayor Don Iveson had pushed the government last week to “make a decision” on plans for the homeless population, just one day before Kenney made the announcement the EXPO Centre would be used.

Click to play video 'Edmonton mayor pushes ‘province to make a decision now’ to help homeless amid COVID-19 pandemic' Edmonton mayor pushes ‘province to make a decision now’ to help homeless amid COVID-19 pandemic
Edmonton mayor pushes ‘province to make a decision now’ to help homeless amid COVID-19 pandemic – Mar 19, 2020

READ MORE: Edmonton mayor pushes ‘province to make a decision now’ to help vulnerable population amid COVID-19 pandemic

Edmonton’s The Mustard Seed and Hope Mission will also open up additional capacity using the government funding to meet social distancing guidelines for homeless people needing shelter, the government said in a Monday news release.

“Our number one priority is to ensure the health and safety of all Albertans,” Kenney said in the release. “I am thankful our homeless-serving agencies are there to help protect our most vulnerable populations. We will continue to support them throughout this challenging time.”

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The isolation centre at the EXPO will open Monday evening, and the drop-in centre will open Tuesday morning.