• By: Mikaila Cober

Ottawa YMCA-YWCA works to reduce the spread of COVID-19

Due to the threat of COVID-19, Ottawa’s YMCA-YWCA has partnered with Ottawa Public Health to help slow the spread of the virus. They are working together to implement preventative measures to reduce the threat of the coronavirus spreading in the Taggart Family Y’s Shenkman Residence. Four families and one individual were moved out of the residence after testing positive for COVID-19 over the last two weeks.

The Shenkman Residence is an essential service as it provides a home to over 300 people in need each and every night. As a transitional housing program, the residence serves as overflow for the City of Ottawa’s family shelter system. Supporting many homeless families, the Shenkman Residence has a variety of different housing units such as; a women’s housing program, a youth housing program and housing for individuals living on low incomes on site. Living quarters are close, similar to a university dorm. While everyone has their own room for sleeping/living, most bathrooms and kitchens are shared by residents. Despite increased cleaning, staggering kitchen access for residents, and educating residents on best practises for avoiding COVID-19 spread, there is still an increased risk because complete self-isolation is highly challenging.

“Since the beginning of this pandemic, the YMCA-YWCA, the City of Ottawa and Ottawa Public Health have been in close contact, working together to ensure the safety of our staff and residents,” says Bob Gallagher, President and CEO of the YMCA-YWCA of the National Capital Region. “We have protocols in place and have implemented all recommendations from health authorities. We are grateful for the ongoing support and direction from Ottawa Public Health, as well as Centretown CHC, CHEO and Inner City Health, who have been providing onsite clinical support during this challenging time. We will continue to work together to fight the spread of COVID-19.”

Out of an abundance of caution, Ottawa Public Health is now recommending that there be an approximate 35 per cent reduction of people living in the residence to better allow for physical distancing. During this next phase, the City of Ottawa will relocate nearly 80 residents to other facilities, following the recommendations of Ottawa Public Health. Moves will begin this week.

The YMCA-YWCA continues to work closely with all health authorities to ensure residents have access to testing and are isolated and moved, as per Ottawa Public Health direction. Education about physical distancing, hand washing / sanitizer, and cleaning is ongoing. The facility remains closed to visitors.