Home Away from Home

Boehlert Hall - July 2017 Sunny

UC steps in to provide housing for healthcare workers and first responders on the front lines of the COVID-19 crisis

Many workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic face the risk of high exposure, creating concern about returning home at the end of the day and potentially infecting their families and loved ones.

Utica College has stepped in to help. In partnership with the Mohawk Valley Health System, UC is providing temporary housing for first responders and healthcare professionals in two campus residence halls, Boehlert Hall and Burrstone House.

According to UC’s Director of Emergency Management Shad Crowe, campus officials had begun to prepare the vacant Burrstone House in early March for the possibility of quarantining UC students, faculty, or staff.

But following the decision to move UC classes online after spring break, Utica College collaborated with the MVHS and the Oneida County Health Department (OCHD) to convert Burrstone House to a community-based COVID-19 sampling station. The drive-through testing site, the first in Oneida County, opened on March 16.

“As the number of confirmed cases in Oneida County grew, MVHS realized campus residence halls might provide temporary housing for healthcare workers,” says Crowe. 

With more local healthcare professionals working extended hours, explains Crowe, the use of facilities on the UC campus gives these essential workers a place to stay and rest rather than risk traveling home.

In addition to Burrstone House, President Laura Casamento authorized the Emergency Management Office to prepare Boehlert Hall as temporary lodging for healthcare workers and first responders, as well.

“We anticipate between 50 and 75 professionals from both MVHS and the first responder community,” Crowe says. “Both of these groups undergo health screening repeatedly throughout their workday and will do so prior to lodging.”

And like so many in this crisis, Crowe is grateful for the hard work and collaboration of UC staff in launching this initiative quickly.

“Through the dedicated efforts of the Student Life and College Engagement (SLCE) staff and the UC facilities team, we were able to vacate and prep the building in five days,” Crowe says. “This process usually takes upwards of two weeks.”  

MVHS employees have been directed to contact their supervisors for assistance in obtaining lodging. First responders have been advised to contact Crowe and the Utica College Office of Emergency Management at emermgt@utica.edu or (315) 792-3472 if they are in need of assistance.

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