Maine’s acts of kindness: Portland hotel donates 50 rooms to health workers

The Clarion Hotel on Congress Street in Portland will provide free rooms to hospital staff at Maine Medical Center and Northern Light Mercy Hospital. Ben McCanna / Personal Photographer

Editor’s Note: This is the latest installment in an occasional series called Maine Acts of Kindness, which highlights volunteer and philanthropic efforts during the pandemic.

The Clarion Hotel in Portland is donating 50 of its rooms throughout April to provide a clean and safe place for health workers at Maine Medical Center and Northern Light Mercy Hospital to rest and rejuvenate before they go. return to the front line against the coronavirus pandemic. .

“A number of people have contacted us with discounted rates, but Clarion is the first to contact us for the toll-free option,” said Jenny Hutchins, director of human resources at Mercy Hospital.

The rooms given were first made available on Saturday evening. Usage so far has been minimal – Hutchins said no Mercy Hospital staff remained on Sunday afternoon – but is expected to be of greater importance in the weeks to come.

“It’s really great for our staff to not only have a place they can go and not have to come home after being on the front line, but also for our staff from other Northern Light facilities besides us. might need to call. support for any increased number of patients, ”said Hutchins. “Knowing that they have this opportunity at no cost to them is just huge, and one less thing to worry about.”

Clarion is owned and operated by Olympia Hotel Management. The company, headquartered in Portland, operates 26 hotels in the eastern United States, including four in Maine. A similar room donation program has been set up at the Olympia’s Sophy-Hyde Park hotel in Chicago, near the University of Chicago Medical Center.

“We understand, I think, what the medical community is looking for,” said Sara Masterson, president of Olympia Hotel Management and resident of Scarborough. “Our Hyde Park hotel averages approximately 50 rooms per night for the medical community.”

Other hotel companies have offered free rooms to doctors and nurses battling the coronavirus pandemic in several major cities, including New York City, Philadelphia, Toronto, Dallas and Phoenix.

Masterson said health officials at both Portland hospitals had told him the need for nearby hotel rooms for their staff could increase over the next two weeks. Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention director Dr Nirav Shah has pointedly avoided saying when the coronavirus outbreak is expected to peak in Maine, or what levels the public health agency expects for hospitalizations. In Maine, 86 people had been hospitalized with COVID-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus, on Sunday, with 10 deaths attributed to the disease.

This weekend, President Trump said the “toughest weeks” were yet to come for U.S. Massachusetts, Gov. Charlie Baker said his state expects hospitalizations to peak between the 10th and the 10th. April 20.

Masterson said the donation of rooms to healthcare workers was “our opportunity to be good partners in this crisis and to really support” the employees of Mercy Hospital and Maine Medical, MaineHealth’s flagship hospital. .

In a company statement, MaineHealth said it is “grateful to The Olympia Companies and the many other companies that have stepped forward to support members of our care team during this difficult time. Not only do these contributions provide additional resources in our efforts to care for those affected by COVID-19, but this generosity lets women and men on the frontlines know that their community supports their efforts. MaineHealth is currently evaluating this generous offer of help, along with others, to determine how best to put them to work in supporting our caregivers. “

“I think the way communities are really going through these difficult times is mutually supportive,” Masterson said. “Call that kindness, or call that gratitude for what we have. Really, it is a privilege to provide resources to the frontline community. We are a Maine company. This is our home, where our heart is.

Gov. Janet Mills issued an executive order on Friday that, in part, imposes the suspension of all hosting operations in the state until the end of April. But there are exemptions for renting rooms to workers in essential jobs, healthcare workers, as well as the homeless, children in emergency situations, and those at risk of domestic violence.

Masterson said the Clarion has other guests who are considered essential workers, such as contractors working on federal construction projects and truck drivers.

To protect all groups, including Clarion staff, health workers will be isolated on two floors of the hotel, with an elevator and entrance reserved for their use with an expedited check-in process. Healthcare clients will be asked to place used linens or towels in the provided trash bags, which will be separated for 72 hours before being washed in a high heat cycle.

“We really limit contact both for their health and for our own staff,” Masterson said.

Having a spare room after working with patients with COVID-19 can also relieve emotional stress, especially for nurses or doctors who are concerned about eventually bringing the coronavirus back to their families.

“It’s just that extra layer of protection to keep them and their families safe,” Hutchins said.

Are there people in your community who are doing all they can to help others during the virus outbreak? If so, please send details of their efforts to [email protected]

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Sandy A. Greer

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