Missouri S&T will convert two of its student residence halls into temporary housing for Phelps Health medical staff who work with coronavirus patients.
The university’s Residential Commons 1 and 2, two suite-style residential life complexes, will provide a home away from home for the medical personnel. Due to the possibility of exposure to the virus, these professionals may not be able to safely return to their homes due to the risk of exposing others.
“Phelps Health asked what facilities the university might have available to house employees who were potentially exposed to the virus, and we are able to assist them during this time of crisis,” says Fred Stone II, director of design, construction and space management at Missouri S&T. “It’s been a team effort to prepare the lease agreement between Phelps Health and S&T’s student affairs, residential life and COVID-19 Incident Command Team’s logistics team.”
“Part of Phelps Health’s emergency operations preparations include planning for all possible situations,” says Shawn Hodges, administrative director of ancillary and surgical services at Phelps Health. “At this time, the leasing of this location is a precautionary measure in case we begin to see an increased number of suspected COVID-19 patients. We are preparing for these situations now to ensure we are able to continue to provide for the health and safety of our employees, their families, and our patients and communities.”
The two residence complexes have a combined total of 336 bedrooms and 147 suites. To make room for Phelps Health staff, Missouri S&T relocated students who were living in those buildings into the University Commons living space on campus. After Missouri S&T moved to online-only instruction March 16 for the remainder of the semester, about 90% of the university’s residence hall students have moved out of the residence halls.
In preparation for this temporary use, Residential Commons 1 and 2 have been thoroughly cleaned by S&T’s residential life and facilities services staff. The university has also relocated a small number of staff offices that were in the buildings and adjusted locks to better serve the buildings’ temporary role.
“Phelps Health will be responsible for the operation and maintenance of the facility, and no S&T staff will need to enter the buildings before the lease ends other than University Police, who will continue to monitor the facilities,” says Stone.
Phelps Health will lease the location until mid-July, giving the university time to prepare the complex for students’ return in the fall.
“We appreciate our partnership with Phelps Health and are glad we can help our region’s medical personnel during this time of critical need,” says Dr. Mo Dehghani, Missouri S&T chancellor. “We know that the coronavirus situation has brought tremendous disruption to many lives, and it is important that our medical staff have a safe, secure place where they can stay that will minimize the risks to their families and loved ones. This is one way Missouri S&T can help.”
For more information about Missouri S&T’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic, visit coronavirus.mst.edu.