You read that correctly: St. Vincent de Paul has had absolutley zero COVID-19 cases in Ozanam Manor, the nonprofit's transitional shelter for older adults, veterans and adults with disabilites. That is no small feat for the shelter that serves a population of people at higher risk for severe and possibly deadly cases should they contract the virus.
"We have been really blessed," Ozanam Manor Director Julia Matthies said, "and we're working really hard to make sure it stays this way."
Julia believes the precautions SVdP and her team put in place are a big part of why residents remain COVID-19 free. Those precautionary measures include wearing masks, regular temperature checks, daily santization, frequent hand washing, maintaining social distance and limited-to-no admittance of any outside personnel. During these months, only residents, case managers and shelter staff have had access to Ozanam Manor.
Many people wonder how SVdP has been able to so thoroughly protect its residents in communal living. Below, Julia and her team show us what daily precaution looks like in action while giving us a glimpse inside Ozanam Manor during pandemic times.
Scroll below through the photo gallery to see and learn more.
Using touchless thermometers, staff takes temperatures multiple times a day for themselves and the residents. Here, they're checking temperatures to be extra safe just before they serve a meal.
Ozanam Manor has a total of 60 beds and is a dormitory-style shelter, which means that each resident has their own dorm area seperated by dividing walls. This setup allows for more than six feet distance between beds, which helps everyone rest at ease with more than enough living space to socially distance.
Maribeth Schmidt is operations manager at the shelter. She and other case managers have continued to help residents on their path to permanent housing. Sometimes that work happens remotely with case management via phone, but there is always a staff member on site to oversee the shelter and maintain the highest standard of safety and health practices.
Should a resident have a high temperature, show symptoms or test positive for COVID-19, there is a designated quarantine room where the resident can safely separate and recover from the virus. Luckily, the room hasn't been needed.
Every day staff picks up breakfast, lunch and dinner from SVdP's kitchen and wheels the food across the street to Ozanam Manor so that residents continue to have regular access to nutritious meals. Typically, residents would have joined in the congregate dining and meal service offered through SVdP's Family Dining Room. But since pivoting all dining rooms to grab-and-go meals, and in an effort to reduce exposure, all Ozanam Manor meals are delivered and served in the shelter now.
At meal time, residents form a socially distanced line, keeping six feet in between each other as they pick up their food in one of the TV rooms that has been adapted for meal service. Ozanam Manor even has a special refrigerator to help keep the food. Just like going through a drive-thru and taking food home, shelter residents pick up their meals and dine in their individual dorm areas. And like the rest of SVdP's dining rooms, Ozanam Manor has enjoyed many meals made possible by SVdP's partnership with local restaurants during the pandemic.
All residents are required to wear masks when they are outside their individual dorm areas. They also keep distance in hallways, bathrooms and limit the number of people to fewer than 10 in communal spaces like TV rooms and the laundry bay. In June, residents underwent COVID-19 testing at SVdP's Virgina G. Piper Medical & Dental Clinic thanks to a partnership with CVS Health to offer free rapid testing at the clinic. Even earlier, they had access to the antibody test thanks to the generosity of former NFL great Nick Lowery and Dr. Nancy Gaines-Dillard. The antibody testing story was covered by ABC15, Fox 10, and 12 News.
Most importantly, COVID-19 hasn't stopped the joyful work that takes place at Ozanam Manor. New faces continue to be added to the celebratory display board of all the residents who successfully move out and into their own homes. The fitting phrase above says, "There's no place like home," playing on the cinematic classic "The Wizard of Oz" and the shelter's name which is lovingly shortened. Much like the wonderful land in the film, the shelter Oz is a pitstop on each resident's journey to the place every resident dreams of — home.
There truly is no place like home. Will you help Ozanam Manor continue to support seniors, veterans and adults with disabilities during the pandemic so that they can one day soon experience the joy of home too?
Donate today: stvincentdepaul.net/ozanam2020