Monroe County Shelter Task Force Develops Guidance to Help Ensure Shelter Residents and Staff Stay Safe

At the request of the United Way of Greater Rochester and the Monroe County Department of Human Services, Coordinated Care Services, Inc (CCSI) convened the Monroe County Shelter Task Force in March 2020 to develop a collaborative response to addressing the needs of persons in homeless shelters in Monroe County, NY during the COVID-19 pandemic. Representatives from Monroe County government, homeless shelter and health care providers, and others came together to craft a plan to ensure that shelter residents and staff would remain safe; that symptomatic individuals would be able to be quickly moved to alternative locations; and that mechanisms were in place to identify those at highest risk for serious consequences should they contract the virus.
The most recent version of this Guidance Manual from April 14th was developed by the Task Force to provide shelters and transportation providers, partnering hotels/motels, and other community collaborators with the instructions needed to ensure that services to shelter guests are provided in a way that adheres to State and County requirements developed to maintain community health and safety while implementing practices related to COVID-19.
The team continues to meet three times/week to trouble shoot issues that arise, build upon supports and services that are being provided, and help address community issues that impact the success of this work. 
We asked those in the Task Force to share what they believe are the greatest benefits to the community from this work:
“The Task Force has been a renewal for current partnerships and has provided the landscape to forge new collaborative partners. It has allowed Community Services Providers, Local Government, County Services and Health Care Providers an opportunity to combine forces during a community wide crisis. Together we have wrapped a blanket of protection around our homeless friends, by creating new pathways and support structures in order to provide the appropriate level of services during this Global Pandemic.” 
~ Frank Tiberio, Manager of Transitional Housing and Homeless Initiatives, Rochester Regional Health
“The Task Force provided us a great opportunity to partner with county, regional, and state health care and community based organizations.   Together, we prioritized initiatives and developed innovative means for ensuring that our homeless populations were well cared for.  By acting quick and decisively, we were able to ensure that our shelters and health care organizations were well prepared, informed, and able to adequately address the needs of the homeless while preserving necessary resources for community wide response for the entire population.  This partnership will serve us in future endeavors and is proof of how such a collaboration is more effective and resilient than if an organization were to prepare and respond independently.”
~Diane Turiano, Vice President, Rochester Regional Health
“Being part of a team to address the needs of our homeless as they are affected by COVID is inspiring. Each team member shares a value set to support our most vulnerable. There are many unsung heroes and this team includes many of them “
~ Kathy Hiltunen, BSN, MBA, Manager Nursing Services, Monroe County Health Department
For more information, contact Pamela Ayers at