Critical hospital staff in Montgomery County will soon be able to book hotel rooms for very low prices during the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
The Montgomery County Council unanimously approved $250,000 Tuesday for the county’s 2020 fiscal year operating budget to afford the rooms.
Councilmember Hans Reimer led the effort. He said providing hotel rooms for critical front-line hospital staff is necessary for those who work long shifts during the pandemic and have long commutes.
“This is a suggestion that originated from a hospital that mentioned the fact that their staffing is now running at really very close to max capacity and it’s only going to get worse,” said Reimer during the council meeting Tuesday.
“Our healthcare workers are going to be working very, very long shifts for days and weeks at a time and some of them live an hour or an hour or a half away from the hospital. And it’ll be very difficult for them to get rest and recovery time when they’re having an 18-hour shift and a two or three hour commute,” he said.
The Council unanimously approved a $250,000 special appropriation to the County’s FY20 operating budget to provide hotel rooms at a greatly reduced cost for critical personnel on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, spearheded by CM @hansriemer.
👀 https://t.co/P3EqKUvwJW pic.twitter.com/Rp1iTFAbOd
— Montgomery Council (@MoCoCouncilMD) March 31, 2020
Ken Silverman, Reimer’s chief of staff, said the county is expecting to pay $25 per room per night, and is hoping to get reimbursed through federal emergency funds. The county funding was appropriated to Visit Montgomery, which will get the rooms and work with hospitals to make them available to employees, he said. Hospitals will book rooms on behalf of their staff.
Kelly Groff, President and CEO of Visit Montgomery, said they hope to have the program running no later than April 10.
Councilmember Craig Rice said the housing will make a big difference to hardworking hospital staff.
“My mother-in-law works on the front lines at Holy Cross Hospital in Silver Spring. She’s actually out there in one of the tents doing testing. She drives after very long and exhausting shifts all the way to Frederick. So, to have something like this means a lot. It’s going to mean a lot to the individuals who are putting their health and safety on the line each and every day,” Rice said.