City of Edmonton working to get more showers for EXPO Centre COVID-19 facility

A look at how the Edmonton Expo Centre is being used for the city's homeless and vulnerable populations amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Courtesy: AHS

The City of Edmonton has released more information about what day-to-day operations look like at a temporary health facility at the EXPO Centre. The facility was set up to support vulnerable people through the COVID-19 crisis, and now staff are pushing to get more shower facilities for those who use the services.

In an email to Global News, city communications advisor Ashish Mohan said the main intent of the centre is to give individuals experiencing homelessness access to medical and health services at a 24/7 isolation centre if they are exhibiting symptoms.

Along with services for those with concerns about the virus, the other side of the EXPO Centre is operating as a day drop-in centre to take pressure off Edmonton social agencies as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

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

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Those who access either service are provided use of mobile shower and laundry units, said Mohan. However, the units went down for “a few hours” on Sunday due to hot water issues.

“Currently, there are four shower units available in the day drop-in centre and eight units in the isolation centre,” Mohan said.

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Due to their high demand, the city has ordered 18 more shower units as well as more laundry units for those using the centre. However, the timeline for their arrival is unclear.

“Due to the overall high demand for this type of product, these units are being shipped from out of province, which has increased the time to offer more units,” Mohan said in a statement.

Mohan said that when the additional 18 shower units come in, “they will be distributed to reflect the number of people using each side of the centre.”

“There are six laundry units (washers and dryers) in the drop-in centre and six laundry units (washers and dryers) in the isolation centre,” Mohan added. “Additional laundry services have also been ordered and should be delivered in the next two weeks.

“There can sometimes be a wait for individuals to use the showers or laundry, but no individual is restricted from using these services.”

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What’s being offered at the 24/7 isolation centre

The 24/7 isolation centre is meant to offer homeless and vulnerable people medical services if they are exhibiting symptoms of COVID-19, including screening, testing and areas for isolation and quarantine.

The centre is also open to those who believe they may have been exposed to the virus and need to self-isolate to protect others.

Health-care workers are actively monitoring the condition of those in isolation, Mohan said, and are making every effort to ensure they get appropriate health supports.

The isolation centre is being run by the Boyle McCauley Health Centre with support from Alberta Health Services.

What’s being offered at the day drop-in centre

The day drop-in centre, which sees about 500 to 600 people using services each day, is open from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., seven days a week.

Services include food, storage for belongings, showers, cultural and peer support, as well as assistance to find permanent housing.

READ MORE: Edmonton charities launch ‘urgent’ campaign for cash-only donations to buy clothing for homeless

Additional health services being provided at the EXPO include home care, public health, addiction and mental health, infection control and environmental public health support.

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The day program is being run by Homeward Trust, the Bissell Centre and Boyle Street Community Services, along with other social agencies.

The agencies are also running a cash-only donation drive to provide clothing for those using the centre.

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