Sunday, March 22, 2020

UWO selected as potential site to house coronavirus patients; campus volunteers sought

UW Oshkosh has a total of 10 residence halls, including Horizon Village.

By Miles Maguire
UW Oshkosh residence halls may be used to house coronavirus patients, according to an email sent Sunday morning by Chancellor Andrew Leavitt.

"UW Oshkosh has been selected as a potential location to house people who have contracted the coronavirus," he wrote. "We are working closely with leaders in the Wisconsin Department of Administration, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the UW System to determine the best locations on our Oshkosh campus for this to occur."


Using a Harvard model for hospitalizations, the Oshkosh Examiner has reported that the city does not have nearly enough beds to handle a full-blown outbreak of COVID-19.

State agencies "are exploring alternative care sites around the state and reaching out to university communities like ours for volunteers to help cities and regions prepare for the potential number of COVID-19 patients to exceed capacity in hospitals," Leavitt said.

Under current plans "any patients housed on the Oshkosh campus would be those with mild illness and would be housed in our vacant residence halls," Leavitt said. 



The university said that it had begun expediting the move-out of students from campus on Saturday. Some students could be seen still moving out on Sundays.

Classes are being moved to an online environment, but a few students will need to stay on campus. They will not be housed in the same buildings where patients are staying, the university said.

Officials have also said they will need volunteers to help in different ways.


"Right now, in this phase of preparations, we seek university community members who wish to help," Leavitt said. "The state is still working through many details of this effort including necessary safety protocols, what specific skills might be needed and what compensation will look like for volunteers."

The state is looking for "UWO employees and students in the Oshkosh/Fox Valley region who preferably have experience in healthcare or infectious diseases." But other roles also need to be filled, such as case management and data entry, he said.

Not all employees would be eligible to volunteer.

The university has categorized its workers into four tiers. Those who work in the top two groups would not be able to volunteer because their work is deemed time sensitive and "mission-critical." These groups include classroom instructors, technology staff, police and building custodians.

Those who could volunteer would include certain office employees, grounds workers and special event staff, who have already been directed to work off site.

"We know we have asked a lot of you in recent weeks, and we expect that that will continue," Leavitt said. "We see dedicated UWO employees and students consistently rising to the occasion, coming to the aid of those in need and embodying our institution’s values, and we are grateful."

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