May 19, 2020
Update Regarding On-Site Services at HIV/AIDS Regional Services
Over the past two months, the HARS team has been steadfast in their commitment to providing services to individuals living with, affected by and at risk of HIV/AIDS over the phone, in community through our UrWorx Mobile Outreach Unit as well as by supporting our community partners while we navigate the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Today, I am pleased to announce the first phase of resuming on-site services at our office at 844a Princess Street, Kingston effective Monday, May 25th.
Services Available during Phase One:
- The lobby of the HARS office will be open to the public (one at a time) on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays from 9:30am-noon and 1-3:30pm (closed Wednesdays).
- Harm Reduction Supplies, Needle and Syringe Program, Naloxone distribution.
- Distribution of food and practical support items (as available).
- Support Services are available by phone during this phase.
Not Available during Phase One:
- The drop-in space and washroom.
- In person meetings, groups and workshops.
- Space for gatherings of community groups and organizations.
For safety, we have built a Plexiglas shield in the front lobby of the office. Individuals may access the lobby one at a time to receive services.
We ask others to wait outside, maintaining physical distancing, until the lobby is vacant.
The HARS staff will be operating as two teams. Each team will be on-site at different times in order to limit contact and observe physical distancing. When not in the office, staff will continue to work remotely and in the community.
The duration of Phase One is unclear. We will continue to follow the guidance of our Public Health partners as we prepare for the next phase of our resumption of on-site services.
As we begin this phase, I would like to express my deep gratitude to the entire team at HARS. Every day they have all continued to provide service in a compassionate and understanding way, in challenging circumstances and during very stressful times. I am inspired by their commitment and creativity.
March 17, 2020 (UPDATE)
With the Province of Ontario declaration of a state of emergency, HARS is further updating it’s response in an attempt to ‘flatten the curve’ and reduce the number of new COVID-19 infections.
As a result of this declaration, HARS is responding in the following way:
- The HARS office will be closed as of March 17 @ 5pm until further notice. Most of the HARS team will be working remotely and will be reachable by e-mail (see our ‘About & Contact’ page at www.hars.ca).
- Harm Reduction services (including Needle & Syringe and Naloxone) will be available at StreetHealth, 115 Barrack St, Kingston, ON. For other Harm Reduction related inquiries, please contact (613) 329-6932. We will respond to calls within one business day.
- Support Services: Please contact (613) 329-3981. We will respond to calls within one business day.
- Take-Out Meals: As of the time of this writing, meals are available at the front door of Martha’s Table (629 Princess Street) daily from 11-1pm.
- All scheduled groups are postponed until further notice. This includes community rentals and bookings.
Thank you for your understanding and patience. We will continue to be here for you, and working to address the concerns of the communities we serve, most importantly, smashing stigma.
We will update the HARS community as information becomes available and we look forward to seeing you soon.
March 16, 2020 (UPDATE)
Updates re: HARS’ response to COVID-19.
As you’re no doubt aware, the situation re: COVID-19 is evolving rapidly and people are being encouraged to maintain social distancing and avoid gatherings of people. As a result, HARS has expanded it’s response beyond what was stated in the March 13th memo (viewable below), including:
1. We have reduced our staffing levels significantly and have requested that volunteers stay home for the time being, with our thanks for their dedication and support.
2. Our drop-in space and washroom are both closed to the public today.
3. Coffee is available in take-out cups at the front desk as well as a selection of pastries to take-away.
4. Harm Reduction supplies are available at the moment, and we are encouraging individuals to stock up with what they need.
We continue to monitor developments and will adjust our services accordingly.
Thank you for your understanding and support.
March 13, 2020
As many of you will know, COVID-19 (coronavirus) has become a considerable public health concern around the world and here in Canada. We have been monitoring the situation, reviewing what precautionary steps we can take now and planning for the possibility that other steps may be required.
HIV/AIDS Regional Services (HARS) takes its responsibility in serving people living with, affected by and at risk of HIV very seriously. Many of the people we serve may have compromised immune systems, leaving these people more vulnerable to COVID-19 infections. For these reasons, HARS is implementing the following measures in an effort to balance maintaining public health and safety, as well as the needs of the people we serve to access drop-in services, our food program as well as Harm Reduction services.
- All service users, volunteers and staff that are showing signs of sickness (actively coughing and sneezing) are asked to not come to the HARS office, and stay home from their scheduled shifts if volunteering or working. We will be denying access to anyone showing symptoms of illness.
- For those accessing Support Services, we ask that you call your support worker to make arrangements. They will assess whether a phone meeting is required versus in person.
- Limited Harm Reduction services including our on-site Needle and Syringe and Naloxone program are currently available. Harm Reduction services are also available at Street Health, 115 Barrack St, Kingston.
- Our drop-in space may be closed at different times, or operating on limited hours.
- Our community meal program is being reviewed in light of the need to minimize contact and maintain social distancing. This may include moving to disposable cups and plates, and providing ‘brown bag’ lunch, as opposed to our typical meal service.
- All scheduled groups are postponed until further notice.
- Community partners who drop-off at HARS, and community groups who use our meeting space are asked to contact us before coming in the event there is restricted access to the building.
These measures will likely evolve over the coming days and weeks. Please follow us on Facebook and Instagram and visit our website at www.hars.ca for updates on how our services are being adapted in light of COVID-19. In addition, for more information on COVID-19 visit: https://www.publichealthontario.ca/en/diseases-and-conditions/infectious-diseases/respiratory-diseases/novel-coronavirus
The HARS community has ‘been here before’. We will approach this pandemic with the same empathy, kindness and generosity we’ve shown each other in the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis, and reject the hysteria and stigma and discrimination that we know too well and are seeing on social media. We are following the guidance of trusted medical sources and steering clear of misinformation that is all too common when we are faced with unknown circumstances.
Thank you in advance for your understanding while we navigate the uncertainty that comes with this pandemic. The HARS team is continuing to work and we look forward to sharing some exciting new initiatives in the weeks ahead.