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Concordia University opens its residence halls to COVID-19 first responders

Healthcare workers can reserve dorm rooms to prevent exposing members of their own households to the coronavirus.

Editor's note: On April 21, Concordia University clarified that it is not a designated place of isolation for personnel who are under investigation, being monitored or confirmed as COVID-19 positive by a medical professional.

AUSTIN, Texas – Concordia University announced April 20 it has opened two of its residence halls to first responders and healthcare workers on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the press release, uniformed first responders and healthcare personnel can reserve one of the more than 120 single-occupancy dorm rooms to get rest between shifts and prevent exposing members of their own families to coronavirus.

RELATED: Austin YMCA locations open to offer child care for essential workers amid COVID-19

“The university feels privileged to support our local first responders as they work selflessly for our community,” Kristin Coulter, vice president of partnerships, said. “We look forward to serving you while we continue to care for our on and off-campus students, staff and faculty.”

Selena Xie, President of the Austin EMS Association began working with officials at the university to organize the plan when a paramedic reached out to her concerned about staying with their loved ones. 

"A lot of people say well you signed up for this job so you signed up for potentially getting these types of diseases and I think that might be true, we know the risks we are personally taking but we certainly never signed our families up to get COVID-19," Xie said.

When the pandemic started, Xie and her colleagues were able to secure discounts at hotels. However, she said it still equated to approximately $2,000 a month, which was more than 50 percent more than their monthly income. 

"It was not something we were expecting to have to pay, so it is still unaffordable for us unfortunately," she said. 

She also reached out to other universities in the area who were unable to accommodate her request for various reasons. 

Dr. Donald Christian, the President of Concordia University Texas said as of Friday, 10 paramedics had signed up. He believes this number will increase in the coming weeks. 

"It is so great the community can see we could meet this need and its so amazing we could be ready to meet it so quickly, and I think its one of many that will follow in the future," Christian said. 

As of now, Christian said the housing will be available until the Fall semester begins.

The university is located in Austin on RM 620 between FM 2222 and Highway 183.

The university is open to partnering with more first-responder agencies or healthcare organizations across the area as space is still available. Those interested can contact Kristin Coulter for more information through email at kristin.coulter@concordia.edu or by phone at 512-313-4607.  

RELATED VIDEO: Coronavirus changes for first responders



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