Community partnerships strategy minimized pandemic’s impact at GRACE, city’s largest shelter

Press release from Grace Healthcare Services Corp

The pandemic significantly curtailed Grace Clinic operations at GRACE Marketplace, Gainesville’s largest homeless shelter. The GRACE campus went into lockdown at the pandemic onset in March, 2020. In April, 2020, widespread COVID testing of GRACE residents and staff was provided by UF as part of an Emerging Pathogens Institute research protocol.  

Shortly thereafter, Grace Healthcare Services began regular COVID testing twice weekly, which became a critical component of GRACE’s careful re-opening strategy several months later. 1,747 COVID tests were given from April 2020 – April 2021, including repeat testing periodically for all GRACE residents and staff. Grace Healthcare tested all prospective new residents, and GRACE quarantined them on campus until the test results were available. This allowed rapid identification of COVID-positive individuals with offsite quarantine for those COVID-positive provided by Alachua County and prompt contact tracing with onsite quarantine and further COVID testing.  

From April, 2020, to April, 2021, Grace Healthcare detected 15 COVID-positive individuals, promptly moving them off campus, leaving no evidence of COVID transmission within the GRACE community. This provided a significant benefit to this vulnerable population experiencing homelessness, as well as to the Gainesville community at large.

The result of this strategy, the partnership between Grace Healthcare Services (of which Grace Clinics are a part), the Alachua Area Medical Reserve Corp and Department of Health, GRACE Marketplace, the City of Gainesville, and Alachua County, was that GRACE was safely brought back to full capacity (120 residents from a low of about 70 residents at the end of lockdown).  

The Grace Clinics continued to serve patients living at GRACE throughout the pandemic. With the pandemic subsiding, increased availability of point-of-care COVID testing, and COVID vaccinations (373 given from January – April, 2021), these clinics will hopefully be able to also open to medically underserved patients not residing at GRACE by later this month.  

Facilities at Grace Clinic, the medical clinic located at GRACE Marketplace, 3055 NE 28th Dr, Gainesville, have been greatly improved thanks to an expansion initiated by the non-profit organization, Grace Healthcare Services Corp.  

Generous community donors made the project possible. The UF Medical Guild provided a grant through which the new facility was furnished, fully equipped, and stocked with medical supplies. Rebuilding Together of North Central Florida, a local non-profit, donated construction labor with the cost of materials, electrical work, and administrative expense paid by Grace Healthcare Services. Plumbing work was donated by Nate O’Donnell, the owner of Lumberjack Plumbing, and the additional space was provided rent-free by GRACE and the City of Gainesville.

The Grace Clinic upgrade and expansion includes two fully enclosed, sound-dampened, exam rooms with an adjacent patient registration and waiting room. This more than doubles the size of the facility, increasing capacity, accommodating more healthcare providers, and assuring greater privacy during patient encounters.

With the greatly improved Grace Clinic facility, the organizations operating free medical clinics on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday (Alachua Area Medical Reserve Corps, Helping Hands Clinic, and the UF Mobile Outreach Clinic), will be able to provide enhanced services to a larger number of individuals.

  • I have no problem helping those few displaced persons who are from
    Gainesville or Alachua County…but, why is it that the homeless problem keeps getting
    Worse and increasing in Gainesville? It’s because of GNV’s & Alachua County’s failed policies. The plan was
    originally proposed as the “10 year plan to end homelessness “, but once they built the TajMahal Grace
    Marketplace, the term “build it and they will come”
    Turned into a reality…The problem is we need to address our own local homeless issue and NOT take
    In the homeless of other counties or let the PRISON
    Or Jail from Putnam County release their inmates
    To Grace Mkt…On Monday, I was the victim of GNV
    & Alachua Counties’ failed policies…we have Grace
    Mkt and the churches and other NGO’s helping
    The homeless, but why did I have a guy set up camp
    On my front porch (trespass on private property) this last Monday one block from UF, if that wasn’t enough, but
    Then proceed to break and enter my building by
    Kicking in and breaking a locked door and going inside?
    If that was my private home, and I was inside, there definitely would have been one less dangerous homeless individual in our community….they say that all
    “All politics are local”…GNV has a border crisis taking
    I’m homeless from everywhere like the United States
    Has a border crisis along Mexico…please, city & county
    Commissioners: let’s just take care of our own homeless people from our area and not welcome all the homeless
    From the entire planet…we cannot afford to make other
    Counties’ problems our problems.

    • In today’s Alachua Chronicle Mugshots, the Shumen guy with the glasses
      On is the guy who kicked in the door and causing me
      Expense to secure the building with screws & 2×4’s
      Until repairs can be made…his bed on my front poor porch and the over a dozen vape drug marijuana pipes
      And grinder and all his crap went into the dumpster.
      I failed to say that GPD did a great job and the guy
      Was arrested. How they caught him I still don’t know,
      But I’m very grateful…there are others who agree with
      Me on stopping the importation of released inmates
      From other places to our community…we need to
      Practice tough love and personal responsibility here.
      Enough is enough already or the system fails. We
      Cannot make other communities our problems because
      We have enough of our own…I have photos too for
      When & if I have to go to court…the system will probably
      Let him right back out and hopefully you’re not his next

  • The above two letters right on point. I was a visitor to Gainesville a few months ago and could not believe what I was seeing on my way on 39th Avenue. The road that leads to the airport. I thought I was in bumbville by bums approaching my car carrying signs need food I’m a veteran. What BS my father was WW2 veteran and all my Uncles. If one of these so called bums would ask them for money they would be ashamed of them and asked them about their service and find out it’s not true. I’m a retired probation officer and born in New York. New York has less visual bums and seems to be a lot safer than bumsville Florida. A sad situation for Alachua county. I have a remedy to make Gainesville great again. The city and county should make it illegal to stand and camp out at intersections based on the fact to protect bums in the name of public safety. No hanging out on dangerous intersections for safety of bums.

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