Grand Rapids’ homeless testing positive and recovering from COVID-19 now have access to a shelter

May 12, 2020

Front of the Fulton Care Center
Credit Kent County Health Department

To help stop the spread of coronavirus among those experiencing homelessness, the Kent County Health Department is housing them at the Fulton Care Center –a 100 bed contained shelter located near downtown Grand Rapids. Sara Simmonds is responsible for the operation at the Fulton Care Center.

“The Fulton Care Center is a location that is designed and operated to support persons experiencing homelessness as they recover from COVID-19. They are not sick enough to be in a hospital but they are unwell enough to need medical support.”

Currently the facility is housing 15 people and Simmonds they are  receiving three meals per day, their own recovery room and care from public health nurses.

“We do not have people leaving the facility – just walking off and returning to the community. We actually do have drop offs and pick-ups.”

Adam London, the health officer at the Kent County Health Department, says in the first round of testing for those experiencing homelessness, nearly 30% tested positive for COVID-19 but in the second round of testing done, only 7% tested positive for the virus.

“Health screenings in tandem with mask use and using strategic testing in order to look for cases and isolate those cases can be a very effective tool in interrupting these small outbreaks from becoming very large outbreaks.”

Simmonds says they have treated close to 100 people and the majority of them have recovered without any issues. She says the Fulton Care Center will remain open as long as the community experiencing homelessness needs a place to recover from COVID-19.