ARIZONA NEWS

Hotel in Phoenix for homeless who have COVID-19 to begin using pill treatments

Feb 7, 2022, 4:45 AM

(AP File Photo/Charles Krupa)...

(AP File Photo/Charles Krupa)

(AP File Photo/Charles Krupa)

PHOENIX — The COVID-19 hotel in Phoenix has been available throughout much of the pandemic, offering a place for people experiencing homelessness to stay and quarantine while also receiving food and medical care.

The hotel over time has seen a lot of changes as an understanding of the virus has evolved, including moving locations to accommodate more patients.

Another change is coming to the hotel – the use of pill treatments.

Medical Director Dr. Nasser Hajaig with nonprofit Circle the City, which provides medical care to the hotel, said the logistics involved to move patients from the hotel to another facility to receive monoclonal antibody treatments and then back again was unfeasible.

“So what we’re trying to do is give our patients the oral medication,” he said. “Just to keep them out of the hospital.”

About 10% of their patients, most of them unvaccinated, end up needing hospital care.

As the omicron variant of the virus spread throughout the state, the number of patients rose.

At one time in December, they had just 25 patients. The hotel several weeks ago reached a high of 135, which is difficult for a facility with only 140 rooms.

Hajaig said the numbers have since stabilized a bit.

“We’ve been hovering at around 100 for the last few weeks,” he said.

Hajaig commends the staff for their hard work through all the difficulties and uncertainties, saying they’re fatigued but haven’t given up.

“We have had shortages… we’ve had some of our staff go down with COVID,” he said. “But the rest of the team has picked up the deficit, and we continue working… we’re still here.”

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Hotel in Phoenix for homeless who have COVID-19 to begin using pill treatments