Monday, April 20, 2020 / by Ken Couture
The Las Vegas City Council approved more than $254,000 in emergency services purchases for the quarantine facility for the homeless at Cashman Center.
The city has invested upward of $2.8 million in the ISO-Q (isolation/quarantine) facility, officials said when it was unveiled Monday. Clark County has put up $6 million.
During its first day of operation on Tuesday, the isolation complex saw 12 patients, eight whom were admitted.
Two patients were taken to the hospital, one who had tested positive for the virus and the other because of a different medical condition, according to a city spokesman.
Seven patients were isolated for symptoms, while one patient with a confirmed COVID-19 diagnosis was being isolated in a separate wing of the complex. The other two patients were discharged, the spokesman said.
City Manager Scott Adams said Tuesday that the need for the isolation ward was clear after several homeless people who had been staying in Las Vegas shelters, including the city-run Courtyard, tested positive for the disease caused by the new coronavirus, adding that he expects the facility will be “fully utilized” as the state reaches its peak number of cases.
Isolation is especially important in the homeless population, he noted.
“It is really difficult to do contact tracing,” he said. “We just can’t track down where they’ve been, who they’ve contacted, such that the probability for community spread within the homeless community is absolutely incredible.”
The isolation complex, off the intersection of Washington Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard, is believed to be the first in the nation to cater specifically to the homeless and will operate for at least 90 days, said officials, who anticipate that most or all of the cost of the facility will be reimbursed by the federal government.
The funds approved Wednesday from the city’s Department of Community Services will be used to place a portable, handicap-accessible shower and restroom trailers at the site.
The facility, which can sleep more than 500, separates patients by those with symptoms of the coronavirus, those who have tested positive, and those who were exposed to others diagnosed with the disease.
“We have them in a facility, in either isolation or quarantine, not taking up valuable hospital beds,” Adams said. “Because even the hospitals themselves are referring persons out to quarantine and isolation.”
Patients will be taken to the complex by ambulance after being referred by a hospital, shelter or the Southern Nevada Health District. Those who are seriously ill and in need of a ventilator or other advanced treatment will be taken to area hospitals instead.
At the meeting, Mayor Carolyn Goodman asked city staff to develop exit plans for homeless patients at the ISO-Q.
“This is a way now that we are obviously able to touch many in the homeless community that prefer to stay homeless than to get our wrap-around services,” the mayor said.
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