Red Deer flu shelter for homeless closes

The temporary emergency shelter for homeless suffering from the flu closed Monday but could reopen if needed for another wave of the H1N1 virus.

The temporary emergency shelter for homeless suffering from the flu closed Monday but could reopen if needed for another wave of the H1N1 virus.

The shelter opened on Nov. 6 after people using overnight shelters in Red Deer were falling ill and were too sick to leave.

Red Deer’s 24-hour flu shelter with 25 cots opened up at 5581-45th St., the city’s former Electric Light and Power office in Cronquist Business Park.

More than 25 people came to the shelter with flu-like symptoms over the 25 days it was open.

The city donated the space and Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing operated the program, with EMS staff regularly checking in on clients and assisting shelter staff.

Kath Hoffman, Safe Harbour executive director, couldn’t say enough about how the city and community agencies quickly rallied together and within a week had the shelter doors open.

Everyone had full plates, but they all got dropped, she said.

“We’re so small-town, those little miracles can happen. If we were in a bigger city, you couldn’t do that,” Hoffman said on Tuesday.

“(The homeless) were remembered rather than forgotten.”

The site will remain set up and ready if a third wave of the pandemic strikes. In the meantime, people who are sick will be able to stay at Safe Harbour, where a room can be designated if numbers are small.

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