Calvin provides free housing to GRPD, Spectrum workers

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Calvin University is providing free housing to first responders with the Grand Rapids Police Department and Spectrum Health employees.

The university’s Prince Conference Center on East Beltline Avenue will house them. One floor will house Spectrum employees, and another floor will be earmarked to GRPD. Each floor has 23 rooms, the university said.

“It was really a matter of looking at we have this resource that’s not currently being utilized because it was closed … how can we use it to serve the community and this seemed like a good fit,” said William Corner with the University.

Calvin officials say health care workers and officers who stay at the university are doing so as a precautionary measure. The university says the center will be not be used by those who are positive or presumed positive for COVID-19.

GRPD says the housing will be used by officers who were exposed to someone who is presumed to have COVID-19.

“Our officers are used to facing dangers daily but aren’t used to bringing that danger home with them,” said GRPD Deputy Chief David Kiddle in a news release. “The COVID-19 pandemic has changed that. An officer’s worst fear now is that they could potentially bring the virus into their homes as a result of their duties, endangering their own families. So, it’s important to have a way to help any of our officers who are exposed to a presumed positive case be able to quarantine for 14 days, so that they can keep their families safe and get back to their front-line work as soon as possible.”

 The university says Spectrum will use its floor as short-term housing for health care workers.

“They (Spectrum) were looking for a short-term housing solution for those workers being redeployed to Spectrum Health’s Grand Rapids campuses from outside the area,” said Dr. Laura Champion, Calvin’s director of health services in a release. “They also wanted a housing option for staff who are driving in from a bit closer, but who need to do back-to-back shifts.” 

Spectrum says it also helps medical professionals kept their own families safe. 

“As they’re caring for COVID-19 patients, there is concern about exposure. In particular for team members who have immune compromised family members or loved ones living with them, this is another way for them to isolate if they have that concern,” said Pamela Ries with Spectrum Health.

Both the hospital and police department say they don’t have any employees staying at the facility yet, but they anticipate the demand for the rooms will increase in the coming weeks. 

“If you have the ability to help, if you have the ability to reach out and be a resource to the community … it’s a responsibility that we want to take and we take it very seriously and we want to show hospitality to our neighbors the best way that we possibly can,” Corner said. 

The Prince Conference Center is currently closed to the general public. It’s located on the opposite side of the road from its main campus. The university says they plan to leave the conference center open and available to first responders until further notice.

University officials say guests will be able to order food from Calvin’s dining services with free delivery.