Homeless making use of Red Deer flu shelter

The number of people using Red Deer’s 24-hour shelter for homeless people suffering with the flu is holding steady at about 10 per day.

The number of people using Red Deer’s 24-hour shelter for homeless people suffering with the flu is holding steady at about 10 per day.

The length of stay varies.

“We’re seeing a wide spectrum of symptoms so we’re encouraging anyone who does have flu-like or cold-like symptoms to come and be in the sick shelter,” said Colleen Markus, director of programs with Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing.

“Sometimes it’s petering out into nothing. Other times, it’s led to H1N1,” Markus said on Tuesday.

Safe Harbour opened the 25-cot shelter 13 days ago at the city’s former Electric Light and Power office in Cronquist Business Park, at 5581-45th St.

A few clients have been taken to hospital to be checked, but they have all returned to the shelter.

The shelter was originally set up to run for six to eight weeks for people with nowhere to recuperate from the flu.

Markus said there’s been no discussion yet on whether the shelter would be available when the next waves of the H1N1 virus hit, which are expected later this winter and spring.

“We’re just going day by day.”

The number of people using the regular homeless shelter programs in Red Deer, like Winter Inn, has dropped slightly during the mild weather.

But colder temperatures are expected soon.

“I think we’ll see an increase any day now.”

As of Tuesday, 42 people with H1N1 have died in Alberta up from 39 on Monday. So far 884 people have been hospitalized, compared to 830 on Monday.

Visits of people with flu-like symptoms to Red Deer’s hospital emergency department has dropped from about 50 per day last week to 18 on Monday.

To prevent the spread of the H1N1 virus, Alberta Health Services has continued to expand its vaccination program.

On Monday, all seniors over 75 years of age, as of Nov. 1, and their spouses could get an H1N1 vaccination.

On Thursday, immunization will expand to include those 65 years and older, as of Nov. 1, and their spouses.

The vaccination program also opened up to first responders this week, including firefighters, police and provincial peace officers.

Today clinics will be held at:

l Sylvan Lake Alliance Church, 4404-47th Ave from 9:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

l Elnora Community Hall from 12 to 6 p.m.

l Ponoka Kinsmen Community Centre, 5009-46th Ave. from 1 to 7 p.m.

The next Red Deer clinic will be held on Thursday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at CrossRoads Church, at Hwy 2 and 32nd Street.

Other Red Deer clinics scheduled so far include: Saturday at Kentwood Alliance Church from 9 a.m. – 3 p.m.; Westerner Park Harvest Centre, Nov. 23, 12:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.; First Christian Reform Church, Nov. 24, 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and Kentwood Alliance Church, Nov. 28, 9 a.m.- 3 p.m.

For more details on eligibility for the vaccine or locations and dates of clinics go online to www.albertahealthservices.ca

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

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