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City of Albuquerque, Community Partners to Provide Screenings, COVID-19 Testing for Homeless Population

Medical Director appointed to coordinate partners for screening, tests, and care

March 15, 2020

On Friday, the City of Albuquerque, NM DOH Medical Reserve Core (MRC), the Department of Health (DOH), and Heading Home moved to begin screening and testing those utilizing the Westside Emergency Housing Center (WEHC) for COVID-19. The City of Albuquerque is keeping the WEHC open 24/7 until further notice.

Occupants will have their temperature checked and be asked a series of standard COVID-19 questions. Individuals that need testing will be separated to prevent the spread of illness.

The City of Albuquerque “deputized” Dr. Laura Parajon, M.D., M.P.H., the Executive Director of UNM’s Office of Community Health, as the WEHC Medical Director. Dr. Parajon will coordinate with the New Mexico Department of Health to access COVID-19 tests, and is leading the team to provide screenings and care to those who are homeless.

“As our community responds to the challenge of COVID-19, we are stepping up for the most vulnerable in our city,” said Mayor Tim Keller. “These screenings will help to prevent not only COVID-19 but the spread of any other illness for a population that has little access to the healthcare system.”

“We are so grateful for the opportunity to serve here alongside the City of Albuquerque,” said Dr. Parajon. “People experiencing homelessness are a part of our community and we want to provide the best care possible for them. This is certainly testing every part of our health care and community care system — but it also shows the power of partnership and what we can do together."

Each night, an average 400 men, women and families utilize the services of WEHC. Since the Keller administration implemented the decision in March 2019, the WEHC converted from a “winter shelter” to being open 7 nights a week, year-round, and open all weekend. The Center will be open 24 hours a day, seven days a week for families during the public health emergency closure of Albuquerque Public Schools.

Art Kaufman, MD, UNM Vice Chancellor for Community Health, said, "Homeless people often come to the ER with conditions that could have been prevented. This broad partnership will help us offer early detection and treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic. We are partnering with the City, the committed staff at Heading Home and our selfless partners from the NM Medical Reserve Corps, Healthcare for the Homeless, First Nations and Centro Savila to serve the community where they live."

The Westside Emergency Housing Center located at 7440 Jim McDowell NW, offers is open to men, women and families experiencing homelessness in Albuquerque.

Pick-up and Drop-off Location and Times:

  • Pick-up: Coronado Park* (301 McKnight Ave NW); M-F 4 p.m., 5. p.m., 6 p.m., 7 p.m. & Sat-Sun 2 p.m., 3 p.m., 4 p.m., 5 p.m., 6 p.m. & 7 p.m.
  • Pick-up: God's Warehouse (8011 Central Ave. NE) Every evening at 5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Pick-up: Hope Works Day Shelter (1301 3rd ST NW) Sun - Fri. 5:30 p.m. - 6 p.m.
  • Pick-up: Steelbridge (2021 2nd St NW) Women, Families w/ Children, & Disabled Guests Only; Sat - Fri, 4 p.m., 5. p.m. (if available), 7:30 p.m.
  • Drop-off: Hope Works Day Shelter (1301 3rd St NW) Pick-up: Sun - F 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m.
  • Drop-off: Coronado Park* (301 McKnight Ave NW); Sat 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m.
  • Drop-off: God's Warehouse (8011 Central Ave. NE) Every morning at 8 a.m.
  • Drop-off: Steelbridge (2021 2nd St NW) Women, Families w/ Children, & Disabled Guests Only; Mon - Sun 7 a.m., 8 a.m., 9 a.m., 10 a.m.
  • **All times are approximate and may change due to weather or unforeseen circumstances.