Monday, February 8, 2021

Hypothermia


It is February in the Flathead Valley and until lately winter has not been nearly as severe as it could be. It’s easy to actually dismiss things as mild and we can go about our day because the snow isn’t piled up. That is a fair assessment. But what if you have to live in the elements?

Did you know it doesn’t have to be brutally cold to experience hypothermia? If a person suffers ongoing exposure to even 70 degrees without thermal protection and food or nutrients, he or she can become hypothermic. Honestly, some of the most dangerous environmental situations occur in temperate climates when the temperature drops suddenly. 

It is essential to try and recognize early symptoms of hypothermia is. There are three stages of hypothermia related to the body’s core temperature:

• Mild hypothermia, 90°–95°. This is when heart and respiratory rates increase. Other indicators are, hyperventilation, difficulty walking, slurred speech, impaired judgment, pronounced shivering, and frequent urination.

• Moderate hypothermia, 82°–90°. During this stage, a person experiences a lowered pulse, shallow breathing and slowed respiratory rate, slowed reflexes, shivering stops, confusion and disorientation, common cardiac arrhythmias, and paradoxical undressing.

• Severe hypothermia, less than 82°. The most advanced stage is evidenced by hypotension, slow pulse, pulmonary edema, coma, ventricular arrhythmias (including ventricular fibrillation), and possible asystole or “flat line” EKG.

At the shelter, cold weather contingency plans are in place and we hope to get everyone in from the cold that needs it. 

Please remember those who either live in the elements or spend great portions of their days outdoors in the winter. We welcome donations and right now warm hats, coats and socks can go a long way in helping save lives.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

In Honor of Black History Month

In honor of Black History Month we wanted to share some statistics and facts to our community surrounding homelessness and racial disparities.

Did you know that most minority groups, especially Black Americans and Indigenous People, experience homelessness at higher rates than any other race due to long standing historical and structural racism?
The most evident disparity can be found among Black Americans who make up almost 13 percent of the general population but account for almost 40 percent of individuals experiencing homelessness in our country. Black Americans also make up more than 50 percent of homeless families with children. (These statistics can be found through endhomelessness.org for further research)
You may ask yourself...what causes would create such significant disparities in our country?
There are several actually: lack of socioeconomic opportunities, rental housing discrimination, incarceration, and access to quality health care.
All create a cycle for our Black American homeless population to remain chronically homeless and vulnerable.
Knowledge is power and by knowing these statistics we as a country can do better to serve the entire vulnerable population with grace and care.

Wednesday, December 30, 2020

A New Year for Case Management

This year has brought a new transition in Case Management at Samaritan House. Our Case Managers, Maya Negron & Nancy Lisk, have given the shelter program a success-oriented update and we are seeing the hard work of our staff and our clients pay off. Nancy and Maya both come from social work backgrounds and have given this community many years of their time and service.

 

Our program has been enhanced to assist our residents in pursuing goals of self-sustainability while providing connection in accessing resources. Case management services are striving to meet with each resident weekly and sometimes more if requested. During these meetings case management connects & refers our clients to local resources. Maya & Nancy use this time to give affirmation & celebrate recognition to our clients when they’re striving to rise above their circumstances. The shelter is working hard to provide a safe space where residents can decompress and share experiences. This program helps residents have a stronger support system and rapport with Case Managers, creating hope and confidence in their own journeys. 

 

One important aspect of case management that has shifted is the focus on autonomy. Nancy states “My favorites moments are when clients learn to self-advocate.” Samaritan House is seeing a trend in our shelter resident’s ability to be more financially stable in a shorter time period. Our case managers are using assessments and working with clients to develop employment and housing plans and then using these to hold clients accountable in tracking their success. 

 

Case Management is essential for our homeless community to move forward and overcome homelessness. Without adequate access to resources and services they are left in the same debilitating cycle. Samaritan House is working hard to evolve and change to the needs that our clients are seeking. 

Thursday, July 30, 2020

2020 Great Fish Community Challenge



The 2020 Great Fish Community Challenge starts today.  It is a 7 week campaign that will wrap up on September 18th.  There are 56 local area nonprofits participating and Samaritan House is honored to be one of them.  

Nonprofits in the Challenge work to raise money during the campaign.  All gifts are processed through the Community Foundation.  At the end of the campaign, Whitefish Community Foundation will provide a percentage match on the first $20,000 raised by each participating nonprofit.  
There are several ways to donate. You can donate by mail, online or at one of the pop up donation sites that will be happening through the challenge.  

Samaritan House is hoping to use funds from the Great Fish Community Challenge to provide for Case Management services at the shelter.  This type of Case Management work is what helps our clients have a greater success in conquering their homelessness.  Last year, 85% of the clients served in Samaritan House Transitional Housing were no longer homeless when they left our facility. We could provide just a meal and a bed for the night but Case Management is what fixes homelessness.

This means, every dollar donated to Samaritan House through the Great Fish Community Challenge will directly help our work to fix homelessness locally.

Thank you very much for your consideration.




Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Life as we know it has changed

Life as we know it has changed.

This is not a hyperbolic exaggeration or a metaphor to paint a picture; it is reality. You and I are living different that we were a month ago so we can take personal accountability and help save lives by abiding by precautionary measures. The COVID-19 virus is not a respecter of income or geography and it doesn’t care about your job title, politics, or last name.

One of the most important things we can do is shelter-in-place and quarantine ourselves. Social distancing polices ask us not to congregate in groups larger than 10 people and to maintain a bubble of 6 feet when we have to interact with others. For a lot of us, this might be inconvenient or tiresome, but it’s not difficult because we have homes to provide sanctuary.  But what happen if you are homeless or living in a shelter? 

Homelessness presents unique and immense challenges on its own, but this current pandemic increases every problem to potentially lethal levels. Basic things like hand-washing and sanitation prove to be life and death matters when there is no access for these amenities. 

COVID-19 or novel coronavirus has symptoms similar to the flu. People with symptoms have fevers, coughs and also shortness of breath. The virus spreads mainly from person-to-person, between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet). This happens by droplets from an infected person’s coughs or sneezes getting into another person’s mouth, nose, or lungs. If a person touches a surface, object, or a sick person’s hand that has the virus on it from the sick person’s cough/sneeze droplets, the virus can infect the well person when they touch their own mouth or nose. Most people recover without medical intervention and have mild symptoms. But certain people do face a higher risk of having more severe symptoms, including pneumonia. Those folks tend to be older, have weakened immune systems or have underlying medical conditions (things like heart or lung diseases).

Hand-washing is important, but access to hand-washing facilities is limited for folks living without shelter. Sanitizer is also effective. If someone is sick, it will help them not spread germs from their lungs or nose to other things they touch. If they are well, it will help them not pick up germs from things they touch and spread them to their mouth, nose or eyes.

Folks should do what they can to avoid touching their noses, eyes, and mouths. Cover coughs: Any cough, even if someone otherwise feels well, should be covered — not with someone’s hands but by coughing into an elbow, a mask or a bandana. As much as possible, encourage those you’re working with to limit sharing personal items, particularly cigarettes, food, phones, utensils and other items.


Use disinfectant wipes that say “kills human coronavirus” on the back. Follow the instructions on the label. Most important is to not dry off whatever is wiped with sanitizer or a wipe. Whatever is wiped will need to stay wet for the amount of time listed on the label. This step is important because that contact time is what is required to kill the germs.  Wipes can be used to clean high-touch items like phones and other surfaces.

Samaritan House is doing all we can to help provide safe shelter for those who need it. We welcome and appreciate any and all donations at this time. Thank you for partnering with us as we face a new reality together.

*Information courtesy of National Alliance to End Homelessness