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March 14, 2024 @ 2:00 pm – 5:00 pm
Skid Row History Museum & Archive
250 S. Broadway
LA CA 90012
Losd Angeles Poverty Department

Welcome to the Covid Hotel
Unveiling unexpected lessons about healthcare for the homeless that emerged from LA County-run quarantine sites during the Covid crisis.

Exhibition: March 9 – December 14, 2024
Open: Thu, Fri, Sat: 2-5pm
Opening reception March 9, 4-7pm.


Los Angeles Poverty Department is pleased to announce the Saturday, March 9 opening of its new Skid Row History Museum & Archive exhibition, Welcome to the Covid Hotel with a public reception from 4-7 pm. Welcome to the Covid Hotel reveals the exceptional innovations and successes of a multidisciplinary team of healthcare professionals who ran LA County Health Department’s emergency Quarantine and Isolation (QI) sites for houseless Covid patients and people exposed to the virus in shelters. The evening will feature a 15-minute excerpt of a work-in-progress performance by LA Poverty Department at 5 pm, as well as an opportunity to meet some of the frontline heroes who staffed the QI sites.

In spring 2020, the LA County Department of Health mobilized resources to ameliorate the devastation of the public health crisis on the region’s most vulnerable population: people experiencing homelessness. Makeshift QI sites were set up at various locations, including then vacant hotels and motels. More than 10,000 people quarantined at the sites. There were very few deaths, and once released, 93% of the patients needing housing were sheltered in nursing homes, recovery programs, and transitional programs leading to permanent housing—a remarkable rate.

Welcome to the Covid Hotel unveils the unconventional approaches that engendered this success— holistic care coordinated among typically siloed practitioners, harm reduction, and housing first practices, along with an uncommon level of interpersonal care, steeped in empathy and compassion. The exhibition recreates elements of the facilities at a motel-turned-QI site and features video recordings of the medical staff telling how their work saved lives, transformed paDent care, and got people housed.

“The lessons we learned about the power of integrated care is the real gift that emerged from this experience,” said Dr. Sudarsky. “This model successfully merged specialty silos in housing and healthcare to help vulnerable Angelenos get swift access to care. In other words, when health and housing are prioritized as a human right for an enDre community, everyone is better off.”

“This exhibition focuses on the secret sauce—the spirit of the QI workers—their commitment, passion, and courage. Their ability to improvise when so many certainties crumbled. The things they discovered and employed everyday were broad departures from business-as-usual convention. The successes they saw led to a belief that the model of care they discovered and provided, can be scaled up to address the twin problems of housing and healthcare. But to do that, more impassioned and dedicated people are needed,” said John Malpede, LAPD Artistic Director/Executive Director.

Project research materials and public activity documentation from Welcome to the Covid Hotel will be preserved and made publicly available in the museum’s archive.
For information, contact [email protected]

A series of panel discussions will kick off at the Museum on Wednesday, March 27 at 6:30 pm, with Adversity Generates Innovation, featuring Dr. Jennifer Sudarsky, M.D., who served as Medical Director of the QI sites from April 2021 until their closure in June 2022; with Marissa Axelrod, RN and Alternative Healing Practitioner, who was one of the first staff at the original QI site; and Soma Snakeoil, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Sidewalk Project, which improvised responses to help people living on the streets survive the pandemic. The conversation will be moderated by Clancey Cornell.

Welcome to the Covid Hotel project activities are made possible with support from City of Los Angeles, Department of Cultural Affairs; John Randolph Haynes and Dora Haynes Foundation; National Endowment for the Arts; National Endowment for the Humanities; Institute of Museum and Library Services; and California Humanities, a non-profit partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Los Angeles Poverty Department programs are supported by The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, California Arts Council; California Humanities, The Kindle Project; Los Angeles County Department of Arts and Culture; and Mike Kelley Foundation for the Arts.

Welcome to the Covid Hotel is curated by Malpede and Henriëtte Brouwers, LAPD Associate Director, and support from Dr. Sudarsky; with design collaboraDon from Peter Gould, Alan Tollefson, and Young Mi Chi. And thanks to the Institute of Contemporary Art ICA-LA.