ST. FRANCIS — TMJ4 News got the first look inside the isolation center at Clare Hall, on the grounds of the Saint Francis Seminary, along Lake Drive in St. Francis.
It serves Milwaukee County’s homeless population, who are at a high-risk of contracting and spreading COVID-19.
Clare Hall is a former home for retired Catholic nuns. The Archdiocese of Milwaukee was instrumental in helping it become an isolation center.
“It's the right thing to do,” said Archbishop Jerome Listecki. “We must reach out and help those in need.”
The Wisconsin National Guard is staffing the facility, and a private security team is always on site.
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It’s now considered ground zero for helping homeless men get new clothes, supplies, and their own space to recover and stay safe.
Homeless women who are high risk or symptomatic, stay at a separate isolation center at the Super 8 Hotel near Milwaukee’s General Mitchell International Airport.
Right now, there are 21 men staying in Clare Hall, all of whom went through quarantine, and are currently negative for COVID-19.
The peak, was 38 homeless men on April 29th.
Those staying at Clare Hall must be referred from hospitals, homeless shelters, or the 211 community service help line.
The first floor houses homeless men who tested positive for the coronavirus, or are symptomatic.
The third floor is for those who have underlying medical conditions, but are not showing COVID-19 symptoms.
National Guard medics call each patient every four hours to check on them. Medics wear full protective gear if they have to enter a patient’s room. Three meals a day are safely delivered.
“We also actually run and get any supplies they need,” said James Mathy, Milwaukee County’s Housing Administrator. “We have runners that go out, and can pick up prescriptions or other things.”
They also try to connect patients with more permanent housing.
Charles, a 61-year-old homeless man, had been staying at the Milwaukee Rescue Mission, and was referred to Clare Hall. He stayed for nearly a month. He never tested positive for COVID-19, but has an underlying health condition and is high risk.
County leaders working at Clare Hall helped him get a subsidized apartment on Milwaukee’s Northside.
“It’s a blessing,” Charles said. “It’s been a long time. It feels really good. I got to take it day by day, step by step, and stay focused.”
It’s a step toward stopping the spread of COVID-19, and improving the lives of some of our community’s most vulnerable.