Assemblymember Monica P. Wallace (D-Lancaster) has voiced that she is in support of a proposal to temporarily convert dorm rooms at the University at Buffalo (UB) into safe housing for medical workers on the front line. Instead of putting family members in at risk day after day, Wallace suggests that the workers could inhabit the dorms when they are working multiple shifts. Seeing that the housing is temporarily empty, the dwellings would best serve the ‘COVID healthcare heroes’, says Wallace, who is appealing to state and SUNY officials to work with University at Buffalo administrators.
“Our healthcare workers are on the front lines of this crisis, putting themselves at extraordinary risk to save lives,” Assemblymember Wallace said. “The last thing they should have to worry about at the end of their shift is spreading a dangerous virus to their parents, children, or spouses.”
As WNY approaches the apex of the virus, hospitals are now looking for added ways to protect their front line workers, without incurring increased expenses. Instead of looking at hotel rooms as the answer, as some hospitals are doing, the solution could be right in front of us.
Although some have the ability to isolate in basements, garages and campers, others don’t have those options and are looking to the community for support and resources.
“Healthcare workers are going to work every day to care for our community, risking their health and the health of their family members,” said Cori Gambini, president of CWA Local 1168, a union representing many of the nurses in Western New York’s local hospitals. “Many live with high risk individuals who may die if the virus is contracted. Although some have the ability to isolate in basements, garages and campers, others don’t have those options and are looking to the community for support and resources. We want to stay healthy so we can continue to come to work each day to care for our community during this crisis.”
Wallace adds that many of the currently unoccupied dorm rooms at UB are considered “suites”, which means that they have dedicated bathroom facilities. If a hospital staff worker is reluctant to return home after a shift, thinking that he or she might potentially expose family members to the COVID-19 virus, this could be a viable solution. Wallace added that this plan could be arranged without exposing the limited students and staff that remain on campus.
We have already seen examples of doctors and nurses sleeping in garages and cars, to avoid contact with family members. If there is an alternative option available, it should be considered.
“Tragically, we have already lost too many Western New Yorkers to this terrible disease and have seen hundreds of brave healthcare workers fall ill. We should employ all of our resources to ensure that these COVID heroes and their families are protected,” said Wallace.
Lead image: Photo by Ahmed Nishaath | The photo is a generic “dorm” image