The State Department of Health’s Temporary Quarantine and Isolation Center (TQIC) on Kaaahi Street recently closed its doors. This facility opened in 2020 to address the need for pandemic-related medical care. In September, IHS was offered the opportunity to take full care coordination and medical responsibility for TQIC. We were grateful for the opportunity to serve the community in this capacity during an unprecedented time.
The following is a Q&A from October with Jerry Coffee, IHS Director of Clinical Programs and TQIC Director of Operations, which touches on a few key learnings and interesting experiences during TQIC’s operation.
What is the TQIC?
The Temporary Quarantine and Isolation Center, also known as TQIC, is a place where homeless individuals who are COVID positive and medically complicated can come to receive care. If they don’t need to be in hospital but they can’t be on the streets or in a group home setting, we serve them here until they are ready and able to be released to housing, not to the streets.
How is TQIC different from a hotel and other quarantine sites?
The key difference between us and a hotel is that we are able to provide a higher level of medical and behavioral health care. For example, we had a woman referred to us recently who had been quarantining in a hotel but when the nursing staff did their rounds they discovered she was not managing her diabetes well enough to be left alone. We also get a lot of people who are detoxing off of heroin, other drugs, or alcohol. Many are mentally ill and can’t be left to care for themselves or don’t understand that they are sick so they need constant care and attention.
What items do guests need to bring?
Well, if they are coming from home, they bring a lot of things. Clothing, books, technology, snacks, you name it. If they are coming from the streets or one of our shelters, they don’t bring much more than the clothing on their backs and maybe a cellphone. But the great thing is that we provide everything they need here. Clothing (from the IHS donations bins), linens, art supplies, TVs with cable, and 3 nutritious meals per day. Our goal is to make this a comfortable place for them to stay while also working on permanent housing solutions to prevent them from returning to the streets.
What is the craziest thing that happened at TQIC?
There are lots of crazy things that happen here. Many of our guests are detoxing from drugs or alcohol and that can make people behave irrationally. We did have one guy create a rope out of his bedsheets and escaped out of the window (the police brought him back).
Where do people go after being released?
Our goal is to get everyone into stable housing. Those who are coming to us from foster homes or care homes will go back to those. About 10-15% of our guests are going directly to treatment programs, which is amazing. The rest are working the entire time with our dedicated case managers to help them find a suitable place to land with a proper roof over their heads.
Why is IHS managing TQIC?
Although this feels like a new role for IHS, it is really just an extension of what we’ve been doing at some of our other shelters. We have long served medically complicated individuals and those with severe mental illness or substance abuse issues. Our Tutu Bert’s medical respite homes have for several years been offering medically frail homeless individuals a place to rest and recover from medical procedures or manage chronic conditions as they step down from higher levels of medical care in the hospital. Through that, we’ve forged partnerships that have given us the tools we needed for success.
What type of support does TQIC receive?
There are many partners who are helping to make this project a reality. The Department of Health backs the effort. Local 5 has been an incredible partner providing housekeeping, providing services to clean rooms, change linens, and more. 5 Minute Pharmacy has also been a wonderful partner, helping us access needed medications for those in our care. And finally Project Vision, for providing mobile COVID testing and test kits.