Safe Harbour offers shelter to homeless in H1N1 crisis

An emergency shelter opens this afternoon to care for an alarming number of Red Deer’s homeless suffering from the flu.

Safe Harbour Society program coordinator brings blankets into the sleeping quarters of a temporary care centre being set up in the Cronquist Business Park on Thursday.

Safe Harbour Society program coordinator brings blankets into the sleeping quarters of a temporary care centre being set up in the Cronquist Business Park on Thursday.

An emergency shelter opens this afternoon to care for an alarming number of Red Deer’s homeless suffering from the flu.

Central Alberta’s Safe Harbour Society for Health and Housing has set up the shelter at an empty building donated by the city after more and more homeless fell ill from the flu during the second wave of the H1N1 influenza pandemic.

“We’re now averaging about 12, 13 people a night who are displaying some flu symptoms. Some have been hospitalized,” said Colleen Markus, director of programs with Safe Harbour, which operates an overnight mat program for people with addictions.

“We are the home for so many folk, we realized very quickly that Safe Harbour alone could not handle the numbers and health care they would need.”

Past bouts with seasonal flu among the Safe Harbour clients have never been this bad, she said on Thursday.

Safe Harbour has about eight clients with the flu now staying at its mat program during the day.

Markus expects 10 to 15 beds to be occupied at the flu shelter after the doors open.

The shelter is at the city’s former Electric Light and Power office in Cronquist Business Park, at 5581 45th St.

On Thursday, 25 cots were being set up, supplied by the city. Cartons of bottled water were ready. Safe Harbour staff were discussing operating procedures. City maintenance, cleaning and technical staff were busy preparing the building.

“This is the perfect site. There are enough little rooms that we can isolate people if they need to be,” Markus said.

Three weeks ago, Safe Harbour started to see flu among the homeless in Red Deer.

Markus said it didn’t take long for the city and other community agencies to join Safe Harbour to make the shelter a reality.

“Everyone was just pulling together. You name it. If it needs to be done — it’s done.”

No one from Alberta Health Services in Central Alberta was available to comment on the shelter on Thursday, which was the first day public vaccination clinics reopened.

“Alberta Health Services had representation at our organization meeting this week. We were happy for it and we’re still waiting for answers as to how they can help us,” said Kath Hoffman, Safe Harbour executive director.

Red Deer Mayor Morris Flewwelling said addressing the needs of the homeless during the flu epidemic has “fallen into that crack between Alberta Health Services and the municipalities.”

“Red Deer has seen a need and stepped in,” Flewwelling said.

“In former times, we worked very closely as a municipality with public health.”

Thursday morning in Edmonton, senior Alberta Health Services officials announced that four more Albertans have died from H1N1 in recent days, including one person from Central Alberta.

Two of them were elderly and two were middle aged. At least three of them had risk factors making them more susceptible to flu complications.

Since April, 18 Albertans have died and 314 hospitalized.

About 25 per cent of intensive care patients in Alberta have either confirmed or suspected H1N1 influenza.

“Given the amount of influenza circulating in the community now, having four deaths is not unexpected,” said Dr. Gerry Predy, Alberta Health Services’ Senior Medical Officer of Health.

Vaccinations are currently limited to children aged six months to under five years and pregnant women.

Access will eventually be expanded to people with chronic illnesses, but which illnesses must still be determined.

For information on the flu shelter, call Safe Harbour at 403-347-0181. Donations of men’s pyjamas, slippers, sweat pants and socks will be gratefully accepted.

szielinski@bprda.wpengine.com

Just Posted

Bowden Institution Black Press file photo
Bowden Institution inmate dies from COVID-19 complications

Bowden death the sixth in Canada’s federal prison system

(Contributed)
FOUND: Red Deer youth missing

Red Deer RCMP thank the public for their assistance

President Joe Biden delivers remarks about COVID vaccinations in the South Court Auditorium at the White House, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Biden team moves swiftly to tackle pipeline political peril

Executive order issued to improve cybersecurity

Street racers gather the evening of Sunday, Aug. 12, 2018, in the parking lot of the Goodwill on Northeast Marine Drive and 122nd Avenue in Portland, Ore. Across America, police are confronting illegal drag racing whose popularity has surged since the coronavirus pandemic and lockdowns began. Drivers have blocked off roads to race and to etch donut patterns on pavement with the tires of their souped-up cars. From Portland, Oregon; to Albuquerque, New Mexico; from Nashville, Tennessee; to New York City, officials are reporting a dangerous, and sometimes deadly, uptick in street racing. (Anna Spoerre /The Oregonian via AP)
US cities see surge in deadly street racing amid pandemic

Shutdowns associated with the pandemic cleared normally clogged highways

Red Deer Mayor Tara Veer and several members of city council helped kick off the spring Green Deer cleanup campaign on Wednesday. Veer said city workers do their best to keep the city looking good, but need volunteer help to get rid of litter that has blown into bushes onto road sides over the winter. (Photo by LANA MICHELIN/Advocate staff)
Red Deer city councillors launch spring Green Deer campaign

Volunteers are needed to keep the city looking good

Toronto FC forward Jozy Altidore, center, celebrates after scoring a goal against the Columbus Crew with teammates from left, forward Tsubasa Endoh, defender Omar Gonzalez and forward Patrick Mullins during the second half of an MLS soccer match, Wednesday, May 12, 2021, in Orlando, Fla. (AP Photo/John Raoux)
Bradley, Altidore scores in Toronto FC’s 2-0 win over Crew

ORLANDO, Fla (AP) — Michael Bradley had a goal and an assist,… Continue reading

A football with the CFL logo sits on a chair during a press conference in Winnipeg, Friday, November 27, 2015. THE CANADIAN PRESS/John Woods
Former defensive lineman Klassen tackling retirement as he did opposing quarterbacks

Klassen spent seven CFL seasons with Montreal, Calgary and Ottawa

FILE - Contestant Lauren Spencer-Smith on an episode of ABC’s American Idol. (American Idol/ABC photo)
‘American Idol’ contestant exits show amid video controversy

A 16-year-old “American Idol” contestant has dropped out of the singing competition… Continue reading

FILE - Ellen DeGeneres appears during a taping of the “The Ellen DeGeneres Show,” in Burbank, Calif. on May 24, 2016. DeGeneres, who has seen ratings hit after allegations of running a toxic workplace, has decided her upcoming season next year will be the last. It coincides with the end of her contract. (AP Photo/John Locher, File)
Ellen DeGeneres to end long-running TV talk show next year

Viewership dropped by 1.1 million people this season

Ottawa Senators centre Josh Norris, right, celebrates his game-winning overtime goal against the Toronto Maple Leafs with left wing Brady Tkachuk Wednesday May 12, 2021 in Ottawa. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Norris scored winner, Senators beat Maple Leafs 4-3 in Andersen’s return from injury

Norris scored winner, Senators beat Maple Leafs 4-3 in Andersen’s return from injury

Rafael Nadal, of Spain, holds up the trophy after beating Daniil Medvedev, of Russia, in the final at the Rogers Cup tennis tournament, in Montreal on Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Paul Chiasson
Tennis Canada could move top tournaments to US if Toronto, Montreal plan not approved

Tennis Canada could move top tournaments to US if Toronto, Montreal plan not approved

Philadelphia Flyers' Travis Sanheim (6) and Brian Elliott (37) celebrate with teammates after the Flyers won an NHL hockey game against the New Jersey Devils, Monday, May 10, 2021, in Philadelphia. (AP Photo/Matt Slocum)
Puck luck? Hockey’s secrecy makes betting on NHL a gamble

Puck luck? Hockey’s secrecy makes betting on NHL a gamble

FILE - John Davidson, left, president of the New York Rangers, and Rangers general manager Jeff Gorton pose at a news conference in New York, in this Wednesday, May 22, 2019, file photo. The New York Rangers abruptly fired president John Davidson and general manager Jeff Gorton on Wednesday, May 5, 2021 with three games left in the season. Chris Drury was named president and GM. He previously served as associate GM under Davidson and Gorton. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig, File)
New York Rangers fire coach Dave Quinn, 3 assistants

New York Rangers fire coach Dave Quinn, 3 assistants

Most Read