Centennial Hall isolation facility has served 35 individuals

    Juneau, Alaska (KINY) - The recent cluster of cases in the unsheltered population grew to a high of 93 but is now back down to five cases, CBJ Officials said.

    The CBJ opened Centennial Hall to use as a COVID-19 isolation facility in mid-October.

    The cluster in the unsheltered population grew to include family members, friends, individuals who work for a social service organization, and those that live with those employees.

    Since it opened, 35 people have gone through Centennial Hall, with each person staying on average for 11 nights.

    The goal of the facility was to mitigate community spread and to take the pressure off the hospital system and homeless shelters.

    "The effort has been a success so far thanks to the partnership, innovation and resourcefulness of so many Juneau agencies and organizations.  We've been able to create a safe space, provide support, and social opportunities for Juneau residents who've tested positive and don't have a place to isolate in," Scott Ciambor, EOC Quarantine & Isolation Task Force leader said.

    The CBJ has been assisted by Bartlett Regional Hospital, Capital City Fire Rescue, the Alaska Division of Public Health, The Glory Hall, United Way of Southeast Alaska, Southeast Alaska Regional Health Consortium's Front Street Clinic, St. Vincent de Paul of Juneau, Aware and other providers.

    CBJ hired 17 emergency workers to fill in as siste assistants.  CCFR moved the CARES Program or sleep off to Centennial Hall to allow additional trained staff on site around the clock.

    The invidivuals who've gone through the facility do not have permanent housing and many have severe alcohol dependence.  To counter the effects of alcohol withdrawal, which can cause severe complications, like seizures, when it occurs abruptly, the CBJ hospital and CCFR developed a Managed Alcohol Program.

    "I'm really proud of our partners for collaborating on and implementing this pragmatic harm reduction strategy.  I firmly believe that this has helped reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our community and has significantly reduced risk of harm to everyone involved," said Jeannette Lacey, BRH Hospital Incident Command System Patient Tracking Unit Leader.

    The program, modeled after successful ones around the country, administers alcohol to individuals through a physician-approved protocol to prevent withdrawal.  The intent is to mitigate the potentially severe risk of alcohol withdrawal, keep peoplefrom leaving isolation to self-manage withdrawal, and reduce withdrawal-related hospitalizations, which are often lengthy, costly, and puts providers at risk.

    88 people in the cluster of cases have now fully recovered.  Three people remain in isolation at Centennial Hall. 

    The CBJ conducts regular COVID-19 tests each Friday at Juneau shelters.


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