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Bean's Cafe remains closed over response to incident involving injured man

  • Author: Chris Klint
  • Updated: September 28, 2016
  • Published February 22, 2016

Downtown Anchorage soup kitchen Bean's Cafe remained closed Monday, nearly a week after an incident involving an injured man who bled in public areas of the facility.

Lisa Sauder, the executive director at Bean's, said the Third Avenue cafe's clients were being served breakfast, lunch and dinner at the nearby Brother Francis Shelter in the meantime, as environmental assessors inspected cleanup efforts in the Bean's building.

Sauder said the incident that closed the cafe occurred Wednesday evening, when temperatures fell below 45 degrees and Brother Francis Shelter staff brought some of the shelter's overflow homeless clients over to Bean's.

The nonprofit day shelter and soup kitchen has a memorandum of understanding for overflow housing with the Brother Francis Shelter, which is operated by Catholic Social Services.

"While Brother Francis staff were in control of our building, one of their clients had an incident," Sauder said. "Following the incident, we were not notified -- we were notified the next day. We reviewed the (surveillance) video footage and closed down our operations at the end of the day Thursday."

Lisa Aquino, the executive director of CSS, said Monday that Brother Francis has been relying on overflow housing at Bean's on cold nights for years, as winter increases demand for homeless housing.

Aquino said Wednesday's incident, the first under the arrangement to have closed the cafe, was a medical matter with no indications of foul play. Anchorage police spokeswoman Anita Shell didn't find any records of officers responding to Bean's in connection with Wednesday's injury.

"What we do know from the video was that there was a cut, and he walked from the bathroom to the front door -- in the main area and not the kitchen," Aquino said. "That individual was taken to the hospital; we've been trying to find him to make sure he's OK, and he has not unfortunately come back to the Brother Francis Shelter."

Aquino said the incident would normally have been properly documented and the area cleaned up, but the CSS employee who was responsible for overseeing the overflow clients at Bean's that night didn't immediately report the incident.

"We have a specific process for critical incidents, and that includes calling 911," Aquino said. "This employee made a lot of mistakes; because of those mistakes, this employee was terminated."

Aquino said CSS later requested an initial cleanup from Taylored Restoration, but Sauder said she wanted to be sure Bean's could safely welcome people again.

"I need to be 100 percent certain that we can provide the utmost in safety for our staff, volunteers and clients before I reopen our doors," Sauder said.

According to Aquino, CSS was taking steps to ensure that a similar incident "would never happen again" with overflow clients at Bean's.

"It's an opportunity for us to review our protocols, to tighten them up -- to review our memo of understanding, to tighten that up," Aquino said.

Sauder said the goal was to reopen Bean's on Friday.

A health-safety and environmental team from Arctic Catering continued its assessment through Monday; it will provide free training to the facility's staff over the next two days. A contractor also has been identified to further help clean the building and develop procedures.

"We are very anxious to reopen," Sauder said. "We want to get back to our mission."

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