UAB opens dorm for medical workers, other frontline families forced to get creative

Updated: Apr. 7, 2020 at 7:42 PM CDT
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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WBRC) - UAB officials expect medical workers and first responders to begin moving in Camp Hall within the next few days.

The 200 room dorm will serve as a safe space for medical workers at UAB facilities and first responders to go to prevent the spread of germs to their families or for workers who tested positive and need a safe space to isolate.

“An enormous asset that we’re being able to use in this battle,” said Reid Jones, UAB Medicine Chief Operating Officer.

UAB Officials say packing crews moved out items left behind in the dorms by students who haven’t been able to return because of the school closure to limit the spread of COVID-19.

UAB officials believe based on preliminary estimates, this one dorm should be enough to safely house the projected number of people who will need some place to go, but they’re monitoring to decide if other dorms may need to open.

“We don’t know when this is going to be over, but we plan to have the dorm open as long as possible,” said Jones.

For other families of healthcare workers, they’re having to get creative to prevent their loved ones from potential exposure.

The Hill family has used their RV for camping trips for the last 2 years. It’s been Matt Hill’s home away from home for the last three and a half weeks.

“My kids typically raise the window in the front and wave outside,” said Jenna Hill.

Jenna Hill usually packs Matt’s dinner in a box and leaves it for him on the table in front of the camper to limit contact.

Matt Hill works as a BioMed at Princeton Hospital. The family’s not only concerned about his exposure at work, but their daughter being exposed when he comes home.

“Just being in a hospital all day, every day. We do know the risk involved,” said Hill, “With our daughter we just realized it may not be the idea situation at the time, but her life is more important.”

The Hill family says they plan to continue to use their RV in this way until they feel it’s safe. They’re also also asking people who have RVs or campers they’re not using now to donate them to families who have loved ones on the front lines and don’t have a safe space to go.

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