Sleeping pods have been added to the amalgamated shelter in the Vernon Curling Club to help ensure social distancing amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Two Vernon homeless shelters, Our Place and Gateway Shelter, were combined in the curling club in early April to provide more space and resources for those experiencing homelessness during these unprecedented times.
Vernon was the first city in British Columbia to amalgamate its emergency shelters to better protect those experiencing homelessness from COVID-19.
Turning Points Collaborative Society, BC Housing, Interior Health and the City of Vernon amalgamated the two sites in the larger facility, which allows for greater physical distancing for clients and staff.
The curling club houses 70 beds, each sectioned off into a 10-by-10 area to maximize distancing, additional sanitization and portable hand-washing stations and additional PPE, including masks and scrubs, for staff.
Now, Vernon is the first community in the province to add the extra safety measure: the sleeping pods.
“Our goal throughout this pandemic has always been to protect the health and safety of our clients, staff and the community at large,” Turning Points’ executive director Randene Wejr said.
“The sleeping pods are just another in many health and safety measure we have put in place over the past several weeks.”
The pods were made possible through a partnership with BC Housing, which funds the shelter, and Turning Points, the shelter’s operator.
The sleeping pods will soon be introduced into other emergency shelters across B.C.
“All of these ‘best practices’ we have introduced have resulted due to strong partnerships with regional and local governments and organizations,” Wejr said.
“We are incredibly proud of these partnerships, not only are they proving to be beneficial for our clients and staff, but they are making communities safer and healthier for everyone right across British Columbia.”