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Nipissing offers the use of residences for frontline workers

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Normally around this time of year, the Nipissing University residences are bustling with student activity as they prepare for moving home at the end of the semester.

However, with the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the residences have been vacant for a month or more, but no longer. University officials say they are offering the rooms as temporary accommodation for frontline workers.

“Our local frontline healthcare workers, many of whom are alumni of our institution, need all of our support right now as they work to keep our community safe,” said Dr. Mike DeGagné, President and Vice-Chancellor, Nipissing University.  “As a university, we have been seeking ways to serve our community during this time and are pleased that we are able to assist in providing a safe space for healthcare workers to get some much-needed rest while keeping their families, and our community, safe.”

Officials say Nipissing was in contact with the North Bay Regional Health Centre (NBRHC) from the onset of the pandemic to discuss ways to offer support to the hospital and staff. Through those conversations, it was identified that there was a hurdle of providing housing for healthcare professionals who need to self-isolate from their families while caring for patients.

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“This partnership is a testament to our community’s support of frontline healthcare workers by implementing innovative ideas to address the unique demands that our hospital is experiencing during the pandemic,” explained Tammy Morison, President, and CEO, NBRHC Foundation. “These accommodations will help workers get the rest they need and protect their families who may be vulnerable. We are grateful for this generous donation at this critical time.”

Four suites at the Monastery have been donated to the hospital, along with the use of 55 suites in the Founders House residence. Officials say two individuals can be accommodated in each four-room suite, with a private bathroom with each occupant to maintain physical distancing. Once the pandemic is over, the space is slated for a deep cleaning and sanitization prior to students arriving for the next semester of school.

“In making these arrangements, the health and safety of our students remains paramount and every precaution will be taken to ensure the suites will be ready for student use again in the future,” said Assistant Vice-President, Students, Dr. Casey Phillips. “In the meantime, we are happy and honoured be able to address this pressing need in our community during this challenging time.”

The rooms are being offered to the hospital free of charge.

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