MISSOULA — It’s been nearly three weeks since the Poverello Center homeless shelter in Missoula nearly stopped services entirely due to COVID-19.
A member of the staff contracted the virus, and it was found that about half of the Poverello staff had been in close contact with the employee and were subsequently quarantined. At one point, a single staff member worked around the clock for 24 hours to ensure the facility stayed open.
Poverello Center CEO Amy Allison Thompson reached out to the Montana National Guard for help and they were able to meet the needs of the community until the staff was able to get back to work. Allison Thompson says they have implemented new policies to help maintain the same quality of service while keeping staff members as separated as possible.
“Unfortunately, it took down, instead of just our day shift and our swing shift it actually took out both and so we reduced some of that overlap," she explained. "We’ve also adjusted a few things with our homeless outreach team. They were all really working as one big team and we broke them into two teams so if one of them is quarantined ideally the other isn’t and we can continue to provide our services uninterrupted.”
Allison Thompson adds they are also increasing social distancing by having fewer staff members in the building at any given time.