Hudson County has entered into a partnership with CarePoint Health and Alliance Community Health to create a step-down unit for recovering COVID-19 patients who are homeless in two currently unoccupied buildings near Christ Hospital in Jersey City.
The former nursing school and former daycare center, owned by CarePoint Health, are scheduled to be transformed into the step-down unit by the end of the week.
The new unit will allow hospitals in Hudson County to discharge patients who were admitted and tested positive for COVID-19 and are now deemed fit enough for discharge but unfortunately have nowhere else to go.
The target population is homeless individuals demonstrating mild symptoms, who if they had stable housing would simply be released to recover and quarantine at home.
Having homeless shelters provide a place to stay for there recovering patients would expose other shelter guests who typically have chronic health issues to the virus and could result in a further spread of COVID-19.
Clinical care, day and night
The step-down unit for the recovering homeless will provide 24-hour access to clinical care through a staff of doctors and nurses, regular monitoring of the recovering persons respiratory function , and monitoring for potential relapse, so a proactive decision can be made to re-admit a person into the hospital if needed.
The unit will also medically clear those in the homeless shelter population in isolation so that they can enter shelters again without concern that they might infect anyone in the shelter network, staff, volunteers, vulnerable fellow clients and provide professional medical laundry and cleaning services, and medical waste disposal services.
A contractor that provides security at medical facilities in the region will do so for this new unit.
“I believe this is a sensible way to ensure that our hospitals can focus on providing critical care, and our homeless shelters remain truly safe havens for those in need of them,” said Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise. “I want to thank the leadership of CarePoint Health, the City of Jersey City, and our dedicated team from the Hudson County Department of Family Services and the HCIA who put this together. This unit will help stop the spread of COVID-19. It will save lives.”
This new unit will help ensure that the health care system remains focused on critical care and assist with capacity issues by helping to provide the beds required for that mission.
The Hudson County Improvement Authority (HCIA) will lease the space from CarePoint Health to set up what is known as a Federally Qualified Healthcare Center (FQHC) for the county in partnership with Jersey City-based Alliance Community Health, Inc., to provide this step-down unit for an anticipated 100 homeless individuals at one time.
The initial estimated cost to operate the unit is $296,000 a month.
The HCIA will be reimbursed by the County Division of Welfare at the rate Welfare pays for shelter services provided by local hotels and motels with State Department of Family Development funds during the coronavirus pandemic.