Denver Newsroom, Aug 1, 2020 / 05:01 am America/Denver (CNA).
In Washington state, one of the first coronavirus hotspots in the United States, an empty Catholic retreat center will temporarily transform into a quarantine facility for coronavirus patients, the Diocese of Spokane has announced.
In February, the cancelations were already piling up from individuals and retreat groups scheduled to visit the Immaculate Heart Retreat Center, located just south of Spokane.
Prospective retreatants, fearful of the novel coronavirus, which was just beginning to be detected in the United States, were fearful of coming together with people from other households and potentially contracting the virus.
“We were looking at a significant loss of revenue,” Michael Pallardy, development officer for the IHRC, told CNA.
The retreat center officially closed its doors in March, and as of June, it became clear that the center would likely have to cancel all of its retreats and events for the rest of the calendar year. While Deacon John Ruscheinsky, director of IHRC, and his team strategized about the future of the center in light of the coronavirus pandemic, he received an unexpected offer from Dr. Bob Lutz, Clinical Director of the Spokane Regional Health District.
Lutz proposed that in partnership with Catholic Charities of Eastern Washington and the IHRC, the retreat center could temporarily be used as a quarantine facility for those with COVID-19. “So Deacon John Mashinsky went to Bishop Daly and told the Bishop what was proposed and asked the Bishop, what do you think?” Pallardy said. “And the Bishop gave him his blessing and said, ‘Please proceed, see if this possibly can happen.’”