Clallam County could extend services to social distancing center

PORT ANGELES — Clallam County officials are seeking two-month contract extensions for operations, medical services and security at the COVID-19 Social Distancing Center in west Port Angeles.

The three commissioners vetted proposed agreements Monday with Olympic Community Action Programs (OlyCAP), Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic and Norpoint Tactical to maintain the status quo at the low-barrier isolation and quarantine facility through Dec. 31.

“This entire operation is pretty expensive,” Board Chairman Mark Ozias said in a Monday work session.

Commissioners are expected to approve the two-month contracts next Tuesday.

Clallam County opened the shelter in April for homeless individuals who cannot maintain 6 feet of physical distance during the coronavirus pandemic.

About 50 to 60 guests are using the facility daily, county Health and Human Services Interim Director Kevin LoPiccolo said Monday.

The shelter was established in a Port of Port Angeles-owned building that the county is leasing at a $15,000 monthly rate.

County officials are seeking an extended lease with the port and more funding to maintain the Social Distancing Center into May, when Serenity House of Clallam County is expected to open an expanded shelter nearby.

If approved, OlyCAP would continue to operate the center at a not-to-exceed amount of $131,223.

Based on staffing levels, LoPiccolo said the true cost to the county has been closer to $35,000 to $38,000 per month.

OlyCAP recently added two shelter monitors after commissioners approved pay increases for its employees.

“They should be staffed with at least 10 people, which is good news,” LoPiccolo told commissioners Monday.

Other counties, including Jefferson, have reserved hotel rooms for homeless individuals who have contracted COVID-19, OlyCAP Executive Director Cherish Cronmiller said in the work session.

“It’s a balancing act,” Cronmiller said.

“One way or another, you’re going to deal with (COVID-19) fiscally.”

Commissioners next Tuesday will consider a not-to-exceed $42,496 contract with Norpoint Tactical of Port Angeles for continued security at the Social Distancing Center.

A Norpoint officer will staff the facility from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, and on-call security will be available at night.

“Most of the problems occur during the day,” LoPiccolo said.

“Come evening, it’s always fairly quiet, plus most people are sleeping.”

The proposed contract extension with Olympic Peninsula Community Clinic has a not-to-exceed amount of $4,996.

“OPCC does provide a medical doctor at no cost, and there’s a medical assistant and case manager for the facility,” LoPiccolo said.

Commissioner Bill Peach said the cost of the medical contract was “extremely reasonable.”

“Compliments to the doctor who donates all of his time to go out and do that (service) for free, basically, amongst other things,” Commissioner Randy Johnson said.


Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at [email protected].

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