Portable COVID-19 testing booth developed for Houston homeless shelter
Engineers at Oceaneering who came together to design, build and donate a portable COVID-19 testing booth to Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston (HHH).
Last month, the City of Houston deemed Healthcare for the Homeless – Houston (HHH) the official COVID-19 testing site for those living on the streets or in shelters. Due to resource constraints and safety measures, testing had been restricted to their main clinic location, the Caroline Street Clinic, which is a stand-alone space on the edge of midtown and downtown Houston.
Services expanded with the launch of shelter-based testing thanks in large part to a group of engineers at Oceaneering who came together to design, build and donate a portable COVID-19 testing booth to HHH. “The testing booth is easy to use and provides an added layer of safety for our clinical staff. Our friends at Oceaneering really listened to our goals for how to safely do testing and helped bring them to life,” says Mary Ellen McEvoy, HHH Director of Clinic Operations. Dr. Naomi McCants, HHH Chief Medical Officer, adds that “as a result of Oceaneering’s generosity, our testing capacity has expanded greatly. We are learning more about the spread of COVID-19 in our community while providing peace of mind to patients and providers.”
Knowing more about COVID-19 in the homeless population is especially crucial given increased vulnerability to rapid spread. “This increased susceptibility is the result of the fact that most Houstonians who are homeless have underlying chronic health issues, limited access to healthcare and live in communal spaces, like encampments or shelters. They access food and basic services in areas where many people congregate, and they often have limited access to hygiene,” says Frances Isbell, HHH CEO. “These factors not only pose an ongoing heightened risk for people living in encampments and shelters, but also, given the aggressive nature of this virus, for the community at large.
HHH’s testing will quickly gear up to asymptomatic screening and surveillance sample screening at various homeless service sites into the Fall of 2020. “We anticipate these efforts will not be short-lived, so the support of the community, and people like the engineers at Oceaneering, continues to be imperative to our ability to carry out this work,” says Carlie A. Brown, HHH Executive Vice President. “We are a nonprofit that relies on the generosity of the community. People going out of their way to support us in this work has been really touching.”