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UAB opens campus residence hall for Covid-19 positive medical workers

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BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBMA) - Governor Ivey reports 200 health care workers in Alabama have tested positive for Covid-19. That's why UAB is making a major move to isolate and help these workers recover. UAB Student Housing will dedicate a dorm to housing the employees.

Due to the crisis the plan is moving quickly. A message went out to students over the weekend. Camp Hall was selected as the site for medical workers to use. Signs are posted on the front doors.

Medical staff who have tested positive or who need to be in quarantine will be able to use the dorm.

A professional moving company was hired to move the students' belongings that were still in the dorm after the campus classes were closed due to the pandemic. The university says the items will be safely stored in a climate controlled facility on campus.

RELATED: More COVID-19 (coronavirus) information
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Some students voiced concern, but the university says they must help medical staff who are risking their lives to save lives at the hospital. A clause in the housing contracts allows the university to take the space in case of emergencies.

The residence hall will be sanitized and cleaned by hospital and university crews.

UAB offered further detailed information to address concerns from students:

"Please know that we understand the concerns and reservations voiced. This is, however, a global health crisis and it was the necessary and the right thing to do for our UAB healthcare workers.

Under normal circumstances we would not exercise the clause in the housing contract that allows us – under an extreme circumstance – to move a student’s belongings. But these are not normal circumstances. Across our country, our communities are taking drastic, wartime action to limit the devastating effects of COVID-19.

We appreciate you sharing your concerns with us and are here to support our students. Within reason, and with health and safety as our top priority, we will do what we can to minimize difficulties for our students. We will continue to monitor guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and local and state health departments, as well as orders from local and state elected officials to coordinate the safe retrieval of students’ belongings at the appropriate time. Last Friday, Governor Kay Ivey issued a stay-at-home order that does not allow non-essential visits to campus. A previous shelter-in-place ordinance issued by Birmingham Mayor Randall Woodfin imposed similar restrictions.

We ask for your patience and understanding during this trying time and hope you find the following answers helpful.


Why do healthcare workers need to stay in a UAB residence hall?

Across the nation, healthcare workers are not going home for many reasons. For some, the commute takes away from the time they could be helping patients. Others stay away from home to keep their families safe. Others simply need a place close to the hospital to rest and shower. UAB is committed to providing healthcare workers with the comfort and support they need during this time. It’s the Blazer Way.

How can I thank and show my support to the healthcare workers staying at Camp Hall?

Your kind words and support would be appreciated by these selfless colleagues who are away from their loved ones and the comforts of their homes in order to serve on the frontline. You are welcome to email and your message will be shared.

Can I donate money or supplies to support healthcare workers?

Yes. Please visit the HELP UAB FIGHT COVID-19 page to learn different ways you can help.


Why did this happen so fast?

Our community finds itself in a urgent and fluid crisis in which our brave healthcare providers needed a place to stay on campus while they fight the pandemic. This need escalated rapidly, and the plan had to be implemented immediately upon approval. Students were notified as soon as practicable once the plan was initiated.

Why couldn’t I come get my belongings?

Two reasons: This had to be done immediately to meet the critical and time-sensitive needs of our healthcare workers, and we are committed to your health and safety. Student safety is our Number 1 priority. Based on the need for aggressive social distancing, we could not effectively coordinate students’ return at this time and implement this plan in an urgent and timely manner.


What was the moving process?

UAB Housing staff monitored the moving process as all personal property was professionally packed into large (30”x30”x40”) boxes. Larger items were tagged with the room number. Property in apartments with more than one resident was packed and labeled. A distribution plan to ensure that appropriate items are safely returned to the proper owner is being created. Rest assured, the same care the Student Housing team provides students while on-campus was given to your personal belongings.

Where are my items being stored on campus?

Items are being stored in a secure, dry, climate-controlled facility on-campus.

What was done with the food stored in my freezer/fridge?

All frozen and non-perishable food items were donated to the Blazer Kitchen in Hill Student Center to assist fellow students who experiencing food insecurities during this crisis.

Will UAB assume any responsibility if something is broken or missing?

Every effort is being be made to protect all personal items. If there are problems, Student Housing will work through that on a case-by-case basis.

How do we know the movers were COVID-19 negative?

The company that facilitated the move has a longstanding history with UAB. Their professional standards and safety practices meet our expectation. It is important to note that infectious disease experts believe a virus like COVID-19 can only live on objects for a limited time.


Can I pick up my items now? If not, when?

No. You will be notified once it is safe to do so.

I have important/essential items that were packed. Can I come get them?

Essential items may be requested by emailing to be retrieved by a staff member when safe and practical."

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At this time, items are not being shipped.

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