Guiding Light becomes COVID-19 isolation center for homeless

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Guiding Light in Grand Rapids will be an isolation center for homeless individuals who have tested positive for COVID-19.

The isolation center comes through a partnership with the Kent County Health Department.

There are 24 private rooms, a bunk area, six bathrooms and a full-service kitchen in the facility. Up to 60 people can be in the facility when fully staffed, the health department says.

“Guiding Light has always been a valued partner, but now more than ever, we appreciate their collaboration, sacrifice, and generosity,” Dr. Adam London with the Kent County Health Department, said. “Our goal is to provide a safe place for people who are experiencing homelessness to recover from the coronavirus and to minimize the transmission of the virus.”

Patients referred from hospitals after testing positive for COVID-19 or waiting for results can be accepted starting April 3.

Guiding Light will continue its rescue, recovery and re-engagement programs at its Iron House facility.

The health department says the city of Grand Rapids, the nonprofit community, the Amway Corporation and Meijer Inc. have helped make this opportunity possible.

“This is a very strategic and important public health intervention, which will save lives,” London said.

Meanwhile, Degage Ministries is moving the homeless women staying at its S. Division Avenue shelter to an area hotel, saying doing so would reduce risk, though there had not been any problems so far.

Its dining room and community center are still open but only allow 50 people in at a time and is serving meals to-go. Degage said it’s serving between two and three times as many meals as usual.

Mel Trotter Ministries, another Grand Rapids homeless shelter, told News 8 it is also seeing increased demand. It has taken several steps to improve social distancing at its facility.

In Battle Creek, The Haven of Rest Ministries moved its men’s shelter to the city’s Full Blast facility. The shelter is open overnight from 9 p.m. to 7 a.m., and the day shelter is open from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m. Meals are available. The Inasmuch House women’s shelter is open at The Haven of Rest site from 11 p.m. to 6 a.m.