Old VA clinic to become COVID-19 Respite and Recovery Center for homeless

County officials said the Lane Count Respite and Recovery Center will be a place for the homeless to go if they test positive for the virus or are waiting for test results and don't need to be in the hospital.

Posted: Apr 7, 2020 7:31 PM
Updated: Apr 7, 2020 7:33 PM

EUGENE, Ore.-- Lane County Health and Human Services is outfitting the old Veterans Affairs clinic to house homeless people who are recovering from COVID-19 or are waiting for test results.

The county approved the $1.8 million purchase last week so they can turn the closed clinic on River Avenue into a space that could house 100 people.

Officials said the Lane County Respite and Recovery Center will be a place for the homeless to go if they test positive for the virus or are waiting for test results and don't need to be in the hospital.

Karen Gaffney, Director of Lane County Health and Human Services, said the hospital-style set up is ideal to keep people safe.

"We have lots of small exam rooms or offices that can easily be converted to housing for people so they can have individualized rooms to keep them safe and contain the spread of disease," Gaffney said.

Patients can stay as long as needed, depending on their medical conditions. If a positive patient does not show symptoms for 72 hours and does not need more medical attention, they will be released.

Gaffney said the building will open in phases. It will also need to be updated based on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers' recommendations to have the shelter approved by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

The county said the shelter will be open as soon as the certification comes down from the agency. Gaffney said she is proud of her community's efforts to come together during a time of a crisis.

"There's much to be done to respond to a pandemic," Gaffney said. "It's huge and we need everyone's help. So this building is a key part of our response. Our community partners are also stepping up in so many ways to make sure we meet everyone's needs in this emergency."

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