Sentara continues emergency shelter partnership with Open Doors for upcoming thermal season

Published: Aug. 8, 2023 at 7:39 PM EDT
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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV) - Sentara RMH and Valley Open Doors have announced they will continue a partnership this thermal season that began in 2022, providing additional shelter for those facing homelessness in the area on nights of severe winter weather.

The atrium of the office building which houses the Sentara’s Community Health Department, will be used again this thermal season as a secondary emergency, or ‘E2 shelter′. The space will be open on nights when temperatures fall below 20 degrees Fahrenheit, snow accumulates over two inches, or ice accumulates over .10 inches.

Katie Robinson, a project manager with the Community Health Department says the space provides relief in more ways than one, as individuals may turn to the hospital for help.

”That can provide some complications as far as other patients getting timely service, timely care, in the emergency department. So if we can work together with our community partners to be able to offer shelter to a few additional people who are experiencing homelessness, then that’s helpful both on the service end for us and it’s also the right thing to do to try to get more folks shelter,” Robinson said.

10 additional beds will be available in the space on nights the shelter is open, increasing the number of guests Open Doors can serve while they are still on a rotating shelter schedule with area churches and religious organizations. Currently, Open Doors can only serve 40 people while operating in this format.

Executive Director Nate Riddle says on top of supplying a warm space and beds for homeless individuals to sleep, the partnership has been a success with wraparound services.

“Their facilities there at the main hospital last year prepared meals for those guests. Staff also provided additional donations of warmth-providing items such as scarves, jackets, and boots, things like that that we were able to also extend to these guests,” Riddle said.

On nights the secondary emergency shelter is open, guests will be taken from their regular check-in locations to the space itself. Valley Open Doors opens for its upcoming thermal season on November 6.