Temporary housing available for health care workers and first responders

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Tyler Junior College is providing free temporary housing to health care workers and first responders during the Coronavirus pandemic. This housing is open to first responders and health care workers who may need to stay somewhere other than their own homes in order to protect their families.

As stated in a press release published on TJC’s website, Dr. Juan Mejia, the president of TJC, said, “As the community’s college, it is our privilege to offer our TJC facilities to those health care professionals and first responders who are on the front lines taking care of the citizens of East Texas.”

After working in situations where they might be susceptible to the virus, medical staff and first responders may feel uncomfortable coming home and potentially exposing their families. No one who has tested positive for COVID-19 will be able to stay in the residence hall for safety reasons.

These professionals will be staying in TJC’s Ornelas Residence Hall, the largest residence hall on campus. This hall sits a couple blocks away from Tyler’s medical district, offering a short commute for health care professionals working in the area. The medical district includes two major hospitals and an urgent care center.

“Ornelas Hall is in close proximity to hospitals and clinics in Tyler’s medical district and will provide a comfortable place for an overnight stay or a few hours’ rest. We want our health care heroes to know we appreciate all they are doing, especially during this health crisis,” Mejia said.

It is uncertain how long this housing will be available. According to Rebecca Sanders, Director of Public Affairs and Media Relations, TJC will be offering this temporary housing depending on the health crisis and how long housing is needed.

“Initially, TJC will have about 15-16 people taking advantage of the housing,” Sanders said. This number is likely to grow over time, though TJC does not anticipate filling the hundreds of rooms available in the residence hall.

TJC will be following the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines for sanitizing the residence hall in order to maintain the safety of those temporarily staying there.

“Office Pride Commercial Cleaning Services will provide any deep sanitizing cleaning needed for this operation,” Sanders said. “TJC’s maintenance service, ABM, will clean common areas daily such as lobby, elevators, stairs and laundry room. Front desk attendants will wipe down door handles and desk space hourly as a standard precaution.”

Guests staying in Ornelas Residence Hall will also have access to amenities such as Wi-Fi, microwaves and laundry rooms.

According to smith-county.com, as of April 14 there are 103 positive cases of Coronavirus in Smith County. The Texas Department of State Health Services suggests a few steps to help slow the spread and prevent infection. These steps include washing your hands for at least 20 seconds, using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol and disinfecting surfaces that are touched often. They recommend individuals start practicing social distancing, which involves staying away from other people to avoid catching or spreading illness.

In order to help its students and employees stay safe, TJC has asked students to stay out of the dorms and off campus. Classes have been transferred to an online format and all TJC activities have been canceled for this semester.

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