OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — After shutting down for one of the coldest weeks of the year and asking the county to step in on an emergency basis, Day by Day Warming Shelter in Oshkosh resumed normal operations on Monday.
Day by Day Executive Director Molly Yatso Butz says the shutdown was forced by a 'multitude of unfortunate circumstances,' chief among them a severe staffing shortage.
“We had three medical emergencies in addition to losing some integral staff members. Unfortunately, that’s just part of running a business," she said.
When Day by Day shut down just before Christmas, Winnebago County stepped in on a temporary basis and took over daily operations of the shelter along with the city of Oshkosh.
Winnebago County Executive Jon Doemel says the county had to institute some safety guidelines during that time that the shelter may not have had in place previously.
“We kinda had to come in and play bad cop a little bit…" said Doemel. "[With] the amount of staff we had, we were able to do the things they maybe get overlooked when you’re short-staffed. Make sure you’re checking pockets. Taking off shoes, make sure the things that don’t belong in the shelter aren’t in the shelter."
Yatso Butz says Day by Day used the hiatus to get its staff additional training in areas like drug identification, mental health coaching and more, much of which the training came from Oshkosh Police.
Yatso Butz ensures guests that the shelter is now fully staffed and ready to run normally and explains that Day by Day has developed contingencies to prevent another shutdown.
“We’re developing an emergency team right now which we think will be helpful," Yatso Butz said. "About 10 people who will just be on-call for emergencies here at Day by Day."
She added that although the shelter is now fully staffed, they are still not able to help everyone.
"The reality is that Day by Day as it currently stands is no longer able to serve the needs of the community..." she said, "...last night we had to turn away upwards of 15 people because we do not have beds for them."
She hopes the construction of the shelter's new location on Ceape avenue—which is set to open in April—will help bridge that gap though.
"The new shelter...which will house 50 guests each night...will help resolve a lot of those stresses...so we will not have to turn away."