As part of its commitment to serving the community, Salem State University has readied its residence halls and offered them for community needs related to the COVID-19 pandemic. These needs could include housing families; health care workers seeking to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to their families; and patients who are healthy enough for hospital discharge but wish to distance themselves from those in their household. In addition to residence halls, the university has also offered other facilities, including the O’Keefe Complex, for potential use.
In response to a request from the City of Salem, the university is housing families as of April 10; and it has finalized an agreement with Northeast Arc to house employees who work with vulnerable populations and wish to mitigate risk of spread to their families. The university is in discussions with the Lynn Community Health Center and has reached out to North Shore Medical Center about potential current and future needs, and will evaluate requests from additional community partners as they come in.
“We have the space, and our doors are open,” said President John Keenan. “We want to do our part to serve the community in any way that we can.”
Salem State University has about 120 students who, due to varying circumstances, needed to remain on campus at this time. Preparation of the residence halls included consolidating SSU students to residential space on Central Campus to make other facilities, including the entire Bates Complex, available for community use.
In recent weeks, campus personnel facilitated move-outs and relocations while maintaining social distancing guidelines. They also coordinated with a moving company to pack and secure the belongings of students who preferred not to visit campus to retrieve their belongings as this time. As units were emptied and cleaned, the university connected with community partners about the space available.
“I want to thank those on our campus who have worked quickly and diligently to connect with our community and manage a number of moving pieces to get our space ready,” said Keenan. “With the number of cases in the region expected to surge this month, we wanted to be ready to accommodate the multitude of needs that could arise.”
In March, the university gathered personal protective equipment (PPE) from its academic, health services, and facilities departments for donation to first responders and nonprofits in the region. This included nearly 34,000 gloves, over 1,100 gowns, 920 medical masks, 139 procedure masks with visors, 80 N95 face masks, 45 nasal cannula, 29 nasopharyngeal swab sets, and 300 shoe covers.
“I have been moved, but not surprised, by the way our campus has come together in true SSU Viking spirit to help one another and the surrounding community during these unprecedented times” said Keenan.
Those interested in utilizing the university’s space should contact Senior Director of External Affairs Adria Duijvesteijn at firstname.lastname@example.org.