The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s Lowell Center opened Thursday morning as an isolation facility for people who have tested positive for COVID-19, following a request from the state’s Emergency Operations Center.
The conference center, 610 Langdon St., will be used for people who have or have been exposed to the disease who don’t have access to housing. Operations began 8 a.m. Thursday and last for at least two weeks with 24/7 staffing.
The facility has 137 hotel-style guest rooms, according to Trip Advisor. There are also classrooms, meeting rooms and a cafeteria.
The Lowell Center is the only university building currently being used for state COVID-19 efforts, though UW-Madison housing director Jeff Novak said in a Facebook Live video last week that empty residence halls on campus could hypothetically serve as overflow rooms should Madison hospitals face bed shortages.
The UW Police Department has reached out to university departments seeking faculty and staff with clinical field experience and clinical management experience to help perform duties at the center. Tasks may include answering calls, providing intake briefings to new residents and maintaining records.
UWPD emails emphasize that necessary personal protective equipment will be provided to protect from exposure to COVID-19 and that high-risk individuals should not consider the request for staffing.
The state has also asked the university to find staff who fit certain criteria that it could possibly call upon for future needs or staffing issues, said UWPD spokesman Mark Lovicott. He said UWPD has contacted department chairs and directors of the Schools of Veterinary Medicine, Medicine and Public Health, Pharmacy and Nursing.
“The state is compiling a list of individuals that, should they run into staffing issues somewhere within the chain of responding to COVID-19, they may be able to call on these individuals who are deemed non-essential and are currently not working physically on campus, that they may be reassigned to something else,” Lovicott said.
A Department of Administration spokesperson has not replied to requests for comment.
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