BILLINGS — Yellowstone County health officials gave a first look Monday to the MetraPark Montana Pavilion building that is housing, in isolation, unsheltered individuals awaiting COVID-19 test results.
The pavilion "has been set up as an isolation and quarantine site for the homeless people that don’t have a place to be sheltered when they get released from the hospital. We’re providing them a place to come to be isolated and quarantined. They are either awaiting the results of a test or have gotten positive results from a COVID-19 test," said Greg Neill, the RiverStone Health emergency preparedness coordinator.
Neill also serves as a safety officer for the Yellowstone County incident command system.
People could stay at the site for about 14 days, Neill said. That's the length of time any person would be asked to self-isolate at home if a doctor thought they were showing COVID-19 symptoms.
The site is set up in one side of the pavilion totaling about 18,000 square feet. Curtains divide the area into 10-foot-by-10-foot squares with space to walk in between. The site can accommodate 30-50 people and can expand if needed, Neill said.
“It can hold a lot more than we’re planning to have. These 10-feet-by-10 feet spaces are giving us room for about 30-50 people at this time ... It gives them a little bit of privacy there’s spaces between each 10 by 10 where people can go to the restroom, go to shower and eat, that kind of stuff," Neill said.
Neill said people at the isolation site will be able to access the restroom, showers, and have a hot meal to eat with 24/7 security provided by MetraPark.
To further help coordinate the site and develop screening and triage protocols, the county is working with the local Continuum of Care Coalition - made up of 25 groups already working with the homeless population.
The site will also receive some grant funding from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, according to a fact sheet from the Unified Health Command.
The St. Vincent Healthcare Foundation has also committed $50,000 to the isolation site for unsheltered individuals, according to the fact sheet.