Local non-profits team up to combat flu during COVID-19 pandemic

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Local non-profits are teaming up to combat the flu and save medical resources during the pandemic.

Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus and Heart to Heart International are offering flu shots to the homeless community.

“We may have an increase from 50% to100% of hospital admissions and ER visits. So with this vulnerable population, we really want to protect them,” Volunteer Physician with Heart to Heart International Kathleen Stone said.

It’s a week long initiative where they’re stopping at shelters across the metro.

“With people combating the cold weather, now we’re starting to see this immediate need in immune systems starting to drop. So it just makes sense to start doing our tour of the homeless shelters,” Exec. Dir. of Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus Jaysen Van Sickle said.

They are “helping hope go” in new buses that will be used for the Homeless Transportation Program, which connects those experiencing homelessness to several helpful agencies in Kansas City.

“So, whether you need to get to a shelter or you need to talk to someone about behavioral needs, or you need to drop off your kids at one of the child shelters. It just makes sense to connect them all,” Van Sickle said.

“By removing this barrier and connecting the city. I feel like we’ll finally have a way to get more people housed quicker. Those experiencing homelessness will be able to have their needs met quicker because maybe they just need to meet with a counselor or navigator,” Van Sickle said.

Future flu shot stops this week include Restart Inc., Shelter KC, Hope Faith Assistance Campus and Morning Glory Ministries.

As the temperature outside drops, Hope Faith is doing what it can to keep people warm and fed.

“We came up with this electrical system,” He said.

Behind several weather proof boxes are outlets to power heaters outside.

Hope Faith Homeless Assistance Campus is preparing for the weather change.

Van Sickle said 1/3 of the people they serve are new to homelessness due to the pandemic. He said they’ve served 6,000 new people since March.

“That makes sure that our village is actually going to remain warm as well as we have our gas heater in here that will make sure that this warming center is warm as well,” Van Sickle said.

The warming center is expected to be up and running Nov. 1, 2020.

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