Seafarers’ House in San Juan, Puerto Rico

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The view from Seafarers' House, Plaza de Colón in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico

Seafarers' House COVID-19: Preparedness

The Caribbean

Seafarers House is preparing the facilities to prevent COVID-19 and receive visitors as soon as the cruise industry return again.

Since March 2020, our way of life changed dramatically here in Puerto Rico.  We had our first two cases of COVID-19 on March 13th and two days later, a mandatory closure of all businesses was issued to help prevent the spread of the virus, our facilities included.  Currently, Seafarers’ House (SHSJ) is closed to the public ever since the cruise industry has been halted by the pandemic.

However, that has not stopped us from making the necessary adjustments to our facilities so when seafarers return to visit us, they will feel safe.  To protect all visitors and employees, new Protocols have been implemented to prevent COVID-19 contagion.  We are implementing these new protocols so that seafarers may enjoy our facilities in peace, knowing we are doing everything in our power to keep them secure.  Some examples of the adjustments that have been made to the facilities are: the addition of a protective barrier made of acrylic in the reception area, labels on the floor indicating where visitors need to wait in line, a temperature check of each person visiting the establishment, alcohol dispensers placed in different parts of the center to disinfect hands and visitors must also complete a form before entering the premises.  Visitors will not be the only ones following safety protocols.  Our employees will have their own protocols as well such as: Taking their temperature before each work shift, continuously washing their hands throughout their shift, practicing social distancing with everyone, etc.

The lifestyle changes cause by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to adapt.  The usage of masks and hand sanitizers will be with us for the foreseeable future.  The most important thing we can do in the face of adversity is find solutions to overcome the trials and obstacles cause by this pandemic.  Once the cruise industry reopens, we will be here waiting to serve seafarers again and warmly welcome them back to their home away from home.

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COVID-19 ... how you have changed our lives!!

Indeed, the whole world has changed because of this terrible pandemic. All of us, regardless of race or gender, has in some way been negatively impacted by the pandemic, sadly some more than others. Before long we had to learn about the virus and its contagious spread around the globe, social distancing, and quarantines. We have learned to make habit the use of hand sanitizers, face masks and frequent hand washing to help reduce the spread of contagion. It has also become normal for many public places to take our body temperature before we enter an establishment. Supermarkets, restaurants, and even small corner stores have applied this protocol to keep people safe. These times have also drastically altered our personal lives, separating families who are normally close, in case someone in the family is more vulnerable than others to contagion. We have learned to interact with our family members online, virtual hugs replacing physical. All these changes are necessary preventive measures, to avoid the spread of the virus.

This COVID-19 pandemic has affected our professional lives as well. Many people are left without work while others have had to limit their studies or stop them completely. Consequently, this has negatively impacted many psychologically as well. But we are learning to adapt to this situation, either working from home or taking strict safety measures in the workplace, using protective equipment to prevent the spread of the virus. This has been a year filled with a lot of hard life lessons. Humanity must do their part to reduce the spread of the virus so the we may, hopefully someday soon, defeat it entirely and return to our normal way of life. Small sacrifices are necessary, like giving fist bumps instead of handshakes and conversing with others at safe distances while having our faces partly covered for everyone’s protection. All these little lifestyle changes can help keep our friends and loved ones safer.

Even though we have made drastic lifestyle changes due to the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, some have found positive things while adapting to this new way of life. It has helped many change their perspectives on how they live their lives. Some have learned the value of being at home, spending more time with their families. Many have learned the importance of mental health by slowing down to enjoy the little moments with friends and loved ones. To notice the small things around us that, due to our hectic lives, we sometimes ignore.

This historic, once in a lifetime moment we are all experiencing has been hard for everyone. Regardless, we strive to adapt and overcome adversity. The day will come when our way of life will return, and we may hold our loved ones again without fear.

In the meantime, Seafarers’ House San Juan wishes everyone to be safe and sends virtual hugs to those who need it!!

By: Lilliam Alvarado

SHSJ continues to offer our package services. Due to this crisis that has impacted the cruise industry, many seafarers are unable to acquire the many packages that are stored at our facilities. Due to the strict safety restrictions that the island and postal carriers are under, our package services have been severely limited. We have kept in touch with the seafarers who have packages with us, updating their status and asking them if they want to keep their packages in the center or want to have them sent to another address. Although, as stated earlier, we continue to work in a limited capacity and some restrictions on postal mail continue here in Puerto Rico. We have begun to send packages by mail to all seafarers who ask and are able to pay for shipping.

How are we handling the process?

  1. We are constantly monitoring the emails seafarers send us daily.
  2. If any seafarer wants us to send their packages to another location:
    1. We locate the package(s) stored in our center.
    2. We then ask for a detailed description of the packaged items or request your authorization to open the package so that we may view its contents. This needs to be done because the mail carriers ask to know the contents of the package for customs and to also give an estimate for shipping fees.
    3. We take the package to the mail carrier, to get the shipping cost. The cost may vary for each individual package.
    4. Once we acquire the shipping fee information, we send a message to the owner of the package to verify with them if they accept the shipping cost to send their package.
  3. If necessary, we will send the seafarer a customs form that they must fill out for international shipping.
  4. After they send the shipping payment (via PayPal), we will then proceed to mail their package(s). We will also send a copy of the delivery receipt by email. If there is money left over, it will be sent back to the owner via PayPal.

If the seafarer does not want their package sent to them, we will keep the package in our facilities until the cruise industry returns to normal and they can collect the packages on a later date.

For more information, our contact information by email is: packages@seafarerspr.org

 

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced humanity to make drastic changes to every facet of our lives. All of us must do our part to get this pandemic under control. We at Seafarers’ House Puerto Rico are doing our part by establishing safety protocols at our center in Old San Juan. These safety protocols are implemented to ensure the safety of everyone that works and visits our facilities. A temperature check of everyone, social distancing, frequent hand sanitation of all employees during their work shifts and the mandatory use of face masks for everyone inside the building at all times, are just some of the requirements to enter and use of premises.

 The safety protocols are as follows:

  • Screening for visitors (seafarers, community and tourists):
    • An employee will check each visitor’s body temperature.
    • Visitors will then fill out a COVID-19 questionnaire and will be provided hand sanitizer and a face mask if needed before entering.
    • Visitors will enter one at a time, no grouping is permitted. As a safety precaution, the quantity of visitors in the establishment will be limited.
  • Registry:
    • Upon entering and passing the screening test, visitors will then show their ID and give the motive of their visit to the employee in charge of registry.
    • If visitors want to use our WiFi, they will be assigned a seat and must reside their until they leave.
    • Each visitor will have 30 minutes to use our services. If their visit is for another reason, they will be attended to at the moment by one of our employees and will leave once their motive for visiting has been resolved, this is done to keep the flow of visitors moving in our center and will ensure that everyone can have a chance to use our services.
  • Package Services:
    • If a seafarer notifies during registry that their reason for visiting is to pick up a package, they will then be directed to another employee that is in charge of packages.
    • They will be told to wait in a designated area until their package is ready to be delivered to them. If the seafarer is picking up someone else’s package, they must present an authorization letter from the package owner.

 

Since March 2020, our way of life changed dramatically here in Puerto Rico.  We had our first two cases of COVID-19 on March 13th and two days later, a mandatory closure of all businesses was issued to help prevent the spread of the virus, our facilities included.  Currently, Seafarers’ House (SHSJ) is closed to the public ever since the cruise industry has been halted by the pandemic.

However, that has not stopped us from making the necessary adjustments to our facilities so when seafarers return to visit us, they will feel safe.  To protect all visitors and employees, new Protocols have been implemented to prevent COVID-19 contagion.  We are implementing these new protocols so that seafarers may enjoy our facilities in peace, knowing we are doing everything in our power to keep them secure.  Some examples of the adjustments that have been made to the facilities are: the addition of a protective barrier made of acrylic in the reception area, labels on the floor indicating where visitors need to wait in line, a temperature check of each person visiting the establishment, alcohol dispensers placed in different parts of the center to disinfect hands and visitors must also complete a form before entering the premises.  Visitors will not be the only ones following safety protocols.  Our employees will have their own protocols as well such as: Taking their temperature before each work shift, continuously washing their hands throughout their shift, practicing social distancing with everyone, etc.

The lifestyle changes cause by the COVID-19 pandemic has forced us to adapt.  The usage of masks and hand sanitizers will be with us for the foreseeable future.  The most important thing we can do in the face of adversity is find solutions to overcome the trials and obstacles cause by this pandemic.  Once the cruise industry reopens, we will be here waiting to serve seafarers again and warmly welcome them back to their home away from home.

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