The city opens its doors
ROOM AT THE INN, which provides housing for the homeless, has a new home during the coronavirus crisis.
The nonprofit agency has moved its guests from the First Presbyterian Church to the Olson Arena at Lakeview Arena. City manager Mike Angeli worked out the arrangement with RATI executive director Nick Emmendorfer over the last few days. The 30 or so guests had been staying at the First Presbyterian Church in recent weeks, but officials were concerned that they were living and sleeping too close to each other in the church’s basement.
No social distancing. A petri dish for spreading the virus.
“It’s just mattresses on a concrete slab,” says John Sonderegger of the arena. He’s the chairman of the RATI Board. “It’s not meant as a living space but there’s plenty of room. They can spread out, and there’s a curtain between the men’s and women’s sections.”
Breakfast and dinner are prepared by the Warming Center and served at the arena. The Salvation Army is providing box lunches for the homeless.
By the way, Room at the Inn recently got zoning approved to make the second floor of the Warming Center a permanent homeless shelter, but final plans still need to be approved, financing to be found, and construction to begin. Should happen this year.
After the coronavirus passes.
Enough protection equipment…for now
DO UPHS MARQUETTE and Bell have enough protective masks for their personnel?
That’s the question we put to the hospital a couple of days ago. We got an answer:
“...While we currently have enough Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to care for our patients, we, like most other healthcare organizations in the country, worry about our PPE inventory should we keep using it at our current burn-rate. We are taking the necessary steps to be proactive and reserve our resources whenever possible, including postponing elective procedures and moving to stricter visitor procedures.
“We are inspired by the community’s generosity and willingness to step up and offer assistance. We are currently working on a plan to potentially accept new or unused PPE and medical supplies…”
We also asked about bed capacity, the number of respirators, and possible plans to expand–to the currently unused top floor of the hospital, or the old hospital–if the need arose. No specific replies to those questions. They’ve got their reasons for keeping it to themselves, and they’re no doubt planning for such contingencies.
Unfortunate as it seems, this crisis, however, does present the hospital with an opportunity to tighten its bonds with the community. The community certainly seems to want that.
Volunteers stepping in with 3D printers
SPEAKING OF WHICH.
We’ve told you about Masks for Marquette, the local group that’s sprung up almost overnight sewing protective masks for hospital employees.
Another one, Yooper Makers United, has sprung up at the same time, with the same goal–creating the masks–but in a high tech fashion, with 3D printers.
Marquette Senior High School teacher Becky Labrecque started the group and has quickly enlisted the support of other public school teachers, NMU faculty, and hobbyists who have access to 3D printers. The school superintendents have signed off on it.
More than 70 have now joined the group–some doing the printing, others doing laser cutting and molding.
“We need to make thousands of these,” says Labrecque, who’s already delivered some to the hospital. “We know this is just a stop gap measure to keep our hospital workers safe, and we’ll stop when they don’t need them anymore.”
Just like the sewn masks made by Masks for Marquette, these masks are designed to be worn outside the standard N95 masks to provide additional protection for doctors, nurses and medical technicians.
Working from home, but keeping the county operating
“WE’RE DOWN TO the bare bones. We’re doing most of our work from home and we’re coming into the office only when we absolutely have to.”
County Administrator Scott Erbisch explaining how the county government is operating during the crisis. The courts, the airport, and the jail are all operating on a limited basis. Effective, but limited.
Most court cases–except for those with inmates in custody–have been postponed. Only one door is open for the courthouse and the annex, and only those visitors with appointments are being allowed in.
“We just want to limit exposure for our staff,” Erbisch concludes.
And the good news in all this? The county, with Erbisch at the helm, and the city, under city manager Mike Angeli, are maintaining the services that we need and expect.
Something to be said for that, considering the onslaught of disturbing news from across the nation and the world that we’re hearing every day.