New Boise program houses, cares for homeless people with COVID-19

Posted at 1:13 PM, Apr 22, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-22 21:04:44-04

BOISE, Idaho — Editor's note: An earlier version of this story said Cottonwood Suites would be a resource to those awaiting test results after exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms. Since then, the director of Interfaith Sanctuary, Jodi Peterson-Stigers, says their guidelines have changed, so that only those who have tested positive for COVID-19 are eligible to stay in the Cottonwood Suites. Those waiting on test results will be offered a room in which to quarantine at the Boise Rescue Mission.

Most people who are sick with COVID-19 can self-isolate in their own homes. But if you don’t have a home, it can be extremely difficult.

That’s why Boise homeless shelter Interfaith Sanctuary is helping to spearhead a program for local homeless people who are ill with COVID-like symptoms and have tested positive for the virus to be housed and cared for at the Cottonwood Suites hotel in Boise.

But the program is different from common homeless shelters.

“This project has been created to ensure that if we do see an outbreak in this vulnerable population, they will have a safe and comfortable room to quarantine, receive medical attention, nutrition, case management and compassionate care. Interfaith Sanctuary Shelter will manage this campus, overseeing the case management, staffing and operations,” explained Interfaith Sanctuary’s Executive Director Jodi Peterson-Stigers.

“Currently, Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, has been offering COVID-19 assessments and testing directly to our homeless shelters every night beginning at 5 p.m... If the test is positive, that guest will be moved to a quarantined room. FMRI will be providing medical rounding daily at the hotel to monitor guests’ symptoms and provide direction on when the guest is safe to discharge,” she explained.

Karimah Taraz, a volunteer, has moved full-time into the hotel to donate her services and provide support for the guests.

“Guests will be served nutritious meals three times a day prepared by Life’s Kitchen and Create Common Good. Our hospital partners, St. Luke’s and St. Alphonsus, have generously donated funding to support our nutritional program,” Peterson-Stigers added.

She said it’s important to emphasize that “Guests staying at Cottonwood will arrive through a medical referral from hospitals or through the FMRI shelter testing sites."

Anyone within the homeless population who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should get assessed through a medical provider or at our shelter screening sites.

The program is a joint effort between the City of Boise, Our Path Home COVID-19 Homeless Response Plan, Family Medicine Residency of Idaho, Life’s Kitchen, Create Common Good, the Cottonwood Hotel, St Luke’s Hospital, St. Alphonsus Hospital, and the Interfaith Sanctuary Homeless Shelter.

Rooms at the hotel became available when coronavirus spread and caused a number of businesses to temporarily close their doors.

The program is made possible through a 30-day, month-to-month lease between the City of Boise and Cottonwood Suites.