INDIANAPOLIS -- There are more than 1,500 homeless people living in shelters and on the streets of Indianapolis, according to a recent count by the Coalition for Homelessness Intervention and Prevention.
As the COVID-19 virus spreads, the need for specialized medical care for this group increases. Tuesday, the secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration announced plans for a medical facility to treat the homeless. It will be ready in a matter of days at a location that is not being revealed.
It was made possible by a grant by the Lilly Endowment, according to the endowment's communications director, Judith Cebula. "Lilly Endowment approved a $5 million grant to the State of Indiana today," she said. "These resources can be used at the discretion of state leaders to respond quickly to emerging needs resulting from the COVID-19 virus throughout the state. The head of Family and Social Services announced that one of those responses will be the project to help homeless individuals who are affected by the virus."
Dr. Jennifer Sullivan, Secretary of the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration, made the announcement at a news conference by Governor Eric Holcomb and other state officials. Sullivan said the homeless are among the state's most vulnerable groups during a pandemic.
"They lack a place for quarantine and because many already have other medical conditions, they are at a higher risk if they get the disease," she said. "With many people close together in existing shelters, a general spread of COVID-19 in this population quickly becomes a health emergency and an additional burden on the healthcare system."
Those who test positive for the virus will go to the new facility. "This will allow for safe accommodations for recovery and will also free emergency department beds across the city for additional patients needing care," said Sullivan.
Eskenazi Health is taking the lead on staffing and the Indiana National Guard will provide security. "We plan to accept the first individuals within the new few days. We will also work with additional communities to replicate this collaboration across the State of Indiana," said Sullivan.