For 70 years, Father Joe’s Villages has been the leader in providing emergency services to people experiencing homelessness in San Diego. While we have not yet seen a positive within the homeless community, Father Joe’s Villages is implementing an emergency response to protect the health and safety of our neighbors, volunteers and staff.
LAST UPDATED: 4/03/2020
Breaking News Update:
On April 2nd, 2020, a resident of Father Joe’s Villages’ Joan Kroc Center (JKC) tested positive for COVID-19. The individual was first screened on March 31st and a test was administered by our health center that same day. In keeping with the established Countywide protocols, Father Joe’s Villages’ staff acted immediately to relocate the individual to a hotel room secured by the County for isolation and sanitized all of the potentially affected spaces within the shelter to reduce the possibility for further infection. Fortunately, because single adult clients in this shelter live in semi-private rooms, the exposure to other shelter residents was limited.
Father Joe’s Villages quickly notified staff, clients, volunteers, and relevant governmental authorities. Additionally, we are following established protocol to identify and quarantine individuals at risk of exposure from this individual.
Father Joe’s Villages is unique in that we are the only provider in San Diego that also operates a Federally Qualified Health Center. This integration of homeless services and health care means we have been able to proactively screen residents and community members and rapidly isolate people who present symptoms of COVID-19.
“Our staff and primary care team acted swiftly and took the appropriate actions to reduce the potential of further spread within our shelters,” said Deacon Jim Vargas, president and CEO of Father Joe’s Villages. “Every day, I see firsthand Father Joe’s Villages staff working tirelessly to protect the health and wellbeing of those most vulnerable in our community. I am keeping the individual, their family and all our neighbors in need in my prayers.”
The Vulnerability of our Neighbors
Life on the streets is more difficult than most of us can imagine. Individuals experiencing homelessness are more vulnerable than the general population.
Sadly, this means that our neighbors experiencing homelessness are more likely to experience negative outcomes as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.
While most of us will be able to stay safe or recover in our homes, our neighbors experiencing homelessness face additional challenges:
- Weakened immune systems resulting in an increased risk of serious illness.
- Less access to preventative hygiene practices, such as hand washing and sanitation.
- Close, and often unsanitary, living conditions in encampments in our canyons and streets.
- No safe place to recover if illness is contracted.
That’s why Father Joe’s Villages is closely monitoring the Coronavirus and we are taking decisive action.
Our Services are More Critical Than Ever
Right now, this is an evolving situation. With reports of Covid-19 (the disease caused by coronavirus) increasing, we are in frequent contact with local authorities and actively implementing emergency response plans to best protect the health and safety of our clients, staff and volunteers.
Continuing Critical Services
While California Governor Gavin Newsom issued a stay-at-home order to California residents, Father Joe’s Villages has been deemed an emergency service and will continue to provide health care, meals, shelter and more to those who need it most.
At this time, we are providing the following critical care to neighbors in need:
- Crucial shelter and housing to families, veterans, and people living with chronic illness, immunodeficiencies and disability.
- Daily to-go meals to those who are hungry through our Franklin Antonio Public Lunch Program and to residents in our shorter-term shelter programs.
- We are continuing to offer showers and laundry through the San Diego Day Center.
- And, we are providing critical health care services, screening and assessment for COVID-19 through our Village Health Center and Street Health program.
- We are working with the City and County of San Diego to offer and support shelter options that would provide a safe place for our neighbors to get off the streets, including quarantine and isolation spaces, through the San Diego Convention Center and County motels/hotels.
- Our Outreach Team continues to travel out into the community to focus on disseminating accurate health information and resources to people living on the streets.
For the time being, Father Joe’s Villages is pausing or moving to computer or phone services for all programs where that is possible, while we concentrate our staff time and resources on meeting the basic needs of our neighbors in need, while also mitigating risk for staff and clients.
By offering health care, nutritious meals and housing to those who are most vulnerable, we are working to avert a health crisis before it begins. The best thing we can do to ensure the health of our community is continue to work toward ending homelessness, one life at a time.
In response to the COVID-19 crisis:
- The Village Health Center screening for symptoms of for COVID-19 for every patient upon entry into the waiting room.
- Our Street Health program is continuing to go out into the community twice a week to engage those individuals who do not regularly utilize our health services through the Village Health Center. They are also screening people, as needed.
- Village Health Center clinicians are screening, alongside County Public Health RNs, residents of Father Joe’s Villages shelters to proactively identify possible COVID-19.
- On a daily basis, our Village Health Center offers essential medical, dental and behavioral health care to people in need.
Father Joe’s Villages’ services are always working to reduce negative health outcomes for people in need.
Hygiene & Cleaning
Father Joe’s Villages is implementing several tactics to give our neighbors access to CDC recommended hygiene practices and to educate volunteers, neighbors and staff on proper hand hygiene and other tactics to minimize spread.
Father Joe’s Villages has partnered with the County to install additional hand washing stations throughout San Diego. The San Diego Day Center offers showers to people in need 7 days a week.
Father Joe’s Villages is increasing the frequency and intensity of our cleaning efforts, including:
- Utilizing cleaners and disinfectants that kill the Coronavirus.
- Contracting an additional custodial team member whose sole job is to disinfect common areas every 30 minutes.
- Disinfecting countertops, rails, handles and other surfaces every 30 minutes.
- Cleaning our public bathrooms every two hours.
Keeping our Volunteers Safe
The safety of our volunteers is our top priority.
In addition to increased hygiene and cleaning efforts, detailed below, we will be adjusting our client and volunteer procedures in our dining rooms to minimize risk.
We are also asking that volunteers:
- Wash their hands with warm water and soap before and after every shift and whenever they take off your gloves or use the restroom.
- Do not volunteer if they are sick or feeling ill. Please let us know as soon as possible if you need to cancel.
- Wearing gloves during their service.
- Avoid touching their face or eyes with unwashed hands.
If you need to cancel your volunteer service for any reason, please let us know as soon as possible so we can maintain the continuity of our critical services to neighbors in need. Please reach out to our Volunteer Services team at 619-233-8500, ext. 1101 or email@example.com.