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Coronavirus: Trent University to provide temporary housing for front-line health care workers

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Trent University in Peterborough will provide temporary housing options for healthcare workers at the city’s hospital during the coronavirus pandemic.

On Sunday, the university announced it is making the Gzowski College residence on the east bank of the Symons campus available for workers at Peterborough Regional Health Centre.

Hospital officials approached the university last week about the possibility of using residences to temporarily house hospital staff who choose to self-isolate from their families as they provide care for patients.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Trent University donates personal protective equipment to Peterborough hospital

As of Friday, Peterborough Public Health reported 13 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Peterborough, two of which were hospitalized. The health unit’s first confirmed case was a man in his 30s associated with Trent University, who last week was declared resolved.

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“Trent has been looking for ways to support the community as we navigate our way through the current crisis,” said Dr. Leo Groarke, president and vice-chancellor of Trent University.

“After our donation of personal protective equipment to the hospital last week, we are pleased to be able to provide housing for those working on the front lines of health care in Peterborough.”

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Gzowski College is currently unoccupied as Trent is operating with a reduced campus presence after the university announced on March 13 that all on-campus classes would be suspended. Courses continue to be offered online.

The university says the rooms are typically booked during the spring and summer for conferences and weddings but due to the pandemic, all such events have been cancelled.

Up to 100 rooms will be made available beginning Tuesday, March 31, at 4 p.m., using only every second room to provide a private bathroom and support appropriate social distancing, the university said.

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“Peterborough Regional Health Centre and Trent University have a long-standing partnership between our organizations,” said Brenda Weir, PRHC’s vice-president of medicine and regional programs.

“We are pleased to continue working with them through the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure our health-care professionals and staff have access to the important resources they need as they work around the clock to provide care and support for patients. We are grateful to Trent University and to the many other community organizations that have come forward to offer their support in these unprecedented times.”

Details are currently being finalized between the two institutions. While using Gzowski College for temporary housing, the hospital will look after cleaning and sanitation. Once the health situation  the space will be fully-sanitized and turned back over to the University to allow for a 21-day vacancy before students arrive, the university said.

READ MORE: Coronavirus: Peterborough offers free childcare for hospital, health unit employees

Trent University says 140 students who remain on campus without alternative living arrangements are currently residing at the west-side Water Street residences, across from the campus entrance and on the other side of the river from Gzowski College.

“All decisions will remain guided by our values of maintaining the health and safety of our campus community,” stated Julie Davis, Trent’s vice-president, external relations and advancement. “The wellness of our students, faculty and staff, remain paramount as we support our broader community throughout these times.”

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Last week, the university donated thousands of pieces of personal protective equipment and clothing to PRHC and made a large donation of perishable and non-perishable food to Kawartha Food Share.

On Friday, the City of Peterborough announced it was opening free child care spaces for hospital employees.