A Safe Haven Announces Closure of The ASH COVID-19 Medical Respite Isolation Space in Chicago


The Chicago Innovation Award Winning COVID-19 Medical Respite was a Collaboration with

Chicago Department of Public Health and RUSH University System for Health


(Chicago, Illinois)—March 31, 2022 — The A Safe Haven COVID-19 Medical Respite Isolation Space was a collaboration that was spearheaded by A Safe Haven (ASH) starting on March 11, 2020, and opened on April 11, 2020. The accommodations and services provided by ASH included safe and healthy accommodations, in-person and tele-behavioral healthcare, nutrition, comfort support, sanitation, and individualized case management. The intake and healthcare services were provided by RUSH University System for Health (RUSH) and the entire project was funded by the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH).

The original 100 bed ASH Covid-19 Medical Respite opened in a dedicated wing of A Safe Haven’s 140,000 square foot facility in Chicago’s North Lawndale community. It opened in anticipation of an urgent need to provide specialized services for COVID-19 positive homeless and vulnerable populations at the onset of a major surge of the pandemic in Chicago and the State of Illinois.

It was also planned and opened shortly after the State of Illinois was ordered to stay home under the shelter in place order issued by Governor J.B. Pritzker on March 20.

The COVID-19 Medical Respite has successfully helped provide isolation for over 1,142 COVID-19 positive patients. Together the Medical Respite team did their part to help alleviate, address and monitor their healthcare diagnoses, and stop the spread of COVID-19 among encampments, families, and public transportation and community spaces. Due to the unique comprehensive services, ASH was able to individually assess patients’ social determinants of health and discharge many of the COVID-19 fully recovered patients to an appropriate level of care and housing. This helped many patients break their cycle of homelessness, addiction, and unemployment. For example, a patient by the name of Lydell was not only able to survive his COVID-19 diagnosis, but he was also able to get discharged to A Safe Haven’s transitional housing program. He has since fully overcome 25 years of addiction, incarceration, and homelessness and is now gainfully employed and permanently housed.

A Safe Haven, is a 27-year-old social, economic, and housing development model that is proud to serve as one of America’s most innovative and vertically integrated models designed to provide a ‘turnkey’ solution to homelessness for over 5,000 people annually and employment to almost 1,000 people with barriers into jobs annually, pre-pandemic. As an anchor homeless provider and an essential part of the critical infrastructure based in Chicago, ASH continued full-time operations to meet the needs of many current and newly homeless left in the wake of the pandemic.

“At A Safe Haven we are humbled and honored to have been working with Mayor Lightfoot’s leadership teams of the Chicago Department of Public Health, Office of Emergency Management, and with RUSH University Medical Center and RUSH College of Nursing. This collaboration and the remarkable outcomes of a 100% survival rate for this COVID-19 Medical Respite exceeded our wildest expectations in terms of our overall success and outcomes. I hope that our ability to seamlessly integrate the institutional healthcare and homeless provider network to create a more comprehensive community-based health and behavioral healthcare and multidisciplinary approach and delivery system will serve as an excellent case study. Let it be a template that can and should be examined and scaled to amplify the power of this important collaboration and partnership with the City of Chicago and RUSH to be applied to how we deal with the Opioid Epidemic as well.” – Neli Vazquez Rowland, ASH President & Co-Founder.

“When this devastating virus arrived in Chicago, the RUSH University College of Nursing immediately began thinking of the impact it could have on one of Chicago’s most vulnerable populations — those experiencing homelessness,” said Dr. Sherine Gabriel, president of RUSH University. “Without their extraordinary work and this incredible partnership with A Safe Haven, the spread of the virus could have looked very different, putting more lives at risk. Their work played a critical role in getting the City of Chicago to this point and we are deeply grateful for the team’s passion, dedication, and tenacity in fighting COVID-19.”

“The leadership of A Safe Haven and RUSH stepped up and agreed to partner with CDPH when no one else would – at a time when much was still unknown about COVID-19 and the risk to people living in congregate settings was significant. CDPH wants to particularly thank the staff who worked tirelessly over the last two years to support Chicagoans in need of COVID-19 isolation. We have no doubt that many lives were saved as a result of being in their care. Their hard work has also informed the investments the City is making through the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) in services for people experiencing homelessness.” – Dr. Allison Arwady Allison Arwady, MD, MPH Commissioner


About A Safe haven

A Safe Haven Chicago Innovation Award Winner for Best Response to Covid-19 – A Safe Haven is a nationally and internationally recognized comprehensive & scalable model for addressing and solving homelessness for thousands a year, since 1994  For more information about ASH, please visit https://www.asafehaven.org.

About RUSH

Rush University System for Health (RUSH) brings together the brightest minds in medicine, research and academics. Driven by discovery, innovation and a deep responsibility for the health of our communities, RUSH is a national leader in outstanding patient care, education, research, community partnerships and empowering a new generation of health care providers.

Rush University Medical Center is ranked among the top hospitals in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. The Medical Center was also ranked No. 1 in the nation by Vizient and named a Top Teaching Hospital by The Leapfrog Group.

 About Chicago Department of Public Health

The Chicago Department of Public Health provides guidance, services, and strategies that make Chicago a healthier and safer city.