Laurier opens its residence buildings to healthcare workers

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Laurier has recently partnered with regional hospitals to provide temporary housing to healthcare professionals who are choosing to live away from their families during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Announced in a news release on May 4, about 150 residence rooms will be available for hospital workers to isolate in, starting early this month.

“We’re always looking for ways to ensure that our campus is well-integrated with the communities that we live in, whether that be Kitchener-Waterloo or Brantford,” said Jason Coolman, Vice President: Advancement and External Relations at Laurier. 

“When the hospitals approached Laurier for potential use of facilities, we were keen to see how we could be helpful and what we came up with is [that] there would be a need in the community for regional healthcare workers to have access to housing so that they could continue to serve the community and provide care, but also that they could reduce the risk of bringing COVID-19 home to their families.”

This is Laurier’s latest effort to support local hospitals, as the school has donated 21,000 N95 masks, 38,500 disposable gloves and 200 isolation gowns, as well as surgical masks, plastic visors, hand sanitizer, goggles and test kits. 

This arrangement has allowed for rooms in Bricker residence to be used, which is an apartment-style residence. 

Each individual healthcare worker will have their own fully-furnished suite, equipped with a bathroom and kitchen, so that contact with one another is limited. The rooms will also be thoroughly sterilized and cleaned, explained Coolman. 

Laurier is also looking to provide similar opportunities to offer rooms for patients at these hospitals as well.

“The Grand River hospital and the other regional hospitals are looking to secure about 2000 patient beds should they need them, so in case COVID-19 causes enough demand in the hospitals that they don’t have enough beds, then they would determine how best to use the Laurier residence facilities to house patients,” Coolman said.

“That doesn’t mean that the patients who would be at the Laurier facility would be COVID-19 patients those ones may actually require hospital beds with ventilators and so on, whereas we might house other patients that are displaced by COVID-19 but that use would be determined by the hospital,” Coolman said. “We don’t know exactly if it will be required, or when, or what type of patients, but what we do know is that the residence is now available to them should they need it.”

The residences that would be offered to patients would likely be single dormitory-style rooms, which would be similar to the private rooms at hospitals and will allow health-care workers to still provide the care for patients, explained Coolman. 

“Residences were not being used in the same way over the course of the summer we would normally run a hotel style business in residence, Hotel Laurier and so we were able to shift that to provide this much needed help to our health care system,” Coolman said.

While an agreement is still in the works, Laurier is also looking to extend this partnership or other helpful opportunities to the Brantford campus and community.

“Quite honestly, I’m proud that we’re doing a lot of this. I think our students will hopefully be proud that their school is doing something to be helpful,” Coolman said. 

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