Fairbanks Rescue Mission adopts shelter-in-place policy

The Fairbanks Rescue Mission is currently low on N-95 masks, paper towels and disposable cutlery. (Alex Bengel/KTVF)
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) The Fairbanks Rescue Mission has adopted a shelter-in-place policy in response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Under this policy, new clients go through a screening process when they arrive at the shelter. This includes a CDC-provided health questionnaire and having their temperature taken.

If an individual displays symptoms, they may be sent to Tanana Valley Clinic, Fairbanks Regional Public Health Center, Chief Andrew Isaac Health Center, or the emergency room for an examination.

Upon returning to the shelter, a person displaying symptoms or waiting for test results will be quarantined at a separate place in the shelter.

According to Administrative Director Lisa Pullock, the process of preparing the shelter for this new policy has taken one week, with beds having to be rearranged and space made to comply with social distancing guidelines.

“It wasn’t an easy process,” Pullock said.

The policy is in full effect as of March 30. In accordance with this policy, clients who leave the premises after checking in are no longer allowed back into the building. “This is an order to protect the vulnerable people that are staying in the mission. We have people who’ve recently had surgery, recently had pneumonia, recently had cancer treatments even,” Pullock said.

The decision not to allow those who leave to go through the screening process again is, according to Pullock, a practical one. “We would be pretty much screening 115 people every day. That’s not practical for us,” she said.

“We are encouraging people at every step of the way, if you have somewhere else to go, please go there. Congregate living is the least healthy way to live right now,” she went on to say.

Coronavirus measures have tested the shelter’s resources. Pullock said, “We are already operating at a minimum staff level in order to do the best amount of work with the least amount of money.” Staff who feel sick are being told to stay at home.

“We are stretched pretty thin right now but we’re all refocused on keeping the clients as healthy as possible,” Pullock said. She noted that the building is running low on N-95 masks, paper towels and disposable cutlery. Donations are welcome.

The shelter currently has the capacity to house 73 men and 42 women. There are beds still open if someone is in need of a place to stay.

The mission’s Interim CEO Austin Brown said, “I want to express our gratitude to the community as a whole. Time and time and time again the community does demonstrate that Fairbanks is indeed the Golden Heart city of the state.”

Brown encourages the community to pray collectively and to donate to the Rescue Mission online at fairbanksrescuemission.org.

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