With COVID-19 cases rising over the last several months, St. Benedict’s Women and Family Day Shelter converted their site into a testing center for individuals at risk of having the virus. The goal behind the conversion was to prevent COVID-19 from spreading to those living in centers with mass populations.
St. Benedict’s Executive Director Harry Pedigo said the day shelter was exceeding expectations for the first two months after it opened in January. When the coronavirus hit, it was decided that converting the day shelter — which offers services, treatment and rental assistance to the homeless — into a testing site and a place for those at risk of having COVID-19 to stay.
“It was done for the safety of our clientele, and to be good stewards by lessening the risk of spreading COVID,” Pedigo said. “If people were symptomatic or needed a test, we’d place them there.”
All of the 14 individuals — including 10 women and a family of four — were put up in a hotel for 16 weeks, Pedigo said. There were several on the waiting list for the day shelter who were put up in hotels as well.
The day shelter, located at 905 Hickman Ave., was utilized as a sick facility for the St. Benedict’s Homeless Shelter for Men, as well as for Friends of Sinners, Lighthouse Recovery Center and the Daviess County Emergency Management Agency.
In June, the site was converted back into a day shelter, but Pedigo said if Gov. Andy Beshear places more restrictions on businesses, it could easily be turned back into a testing facility.
“We’re keeping an eye on new mandates coming in from the governor,” he said. “When we’ve got so many great organizations in Owensboro with clientele of 50-plus people, the last thing you want is something that spreads so easily to take over in facilities that contain populations of that size. For the most part, it helped a lot. It worked. It was a big ease on organizational leaders.”