April 14, 2020 | Matt Kucinski

A medical doctor on the left, a police officer on the right, with Calvin University's logo overlayed

In late March, Spectrum Health Hospital and the Grand Rapids Police Department (GRPD) called for backup. 

“Unfortunately, crime and disorder have not taken a break during this pandemic and sometimes our officers can’t maintain social distancing during all interactions with community members,” said David Kiddle, deputy chief of GRPD. 

Calling for help

Bill Corner, Calvin University’s director of campus safety, took the call from Kiddle. He says the Grand Rapids Police Department was looking for potential housing for some of its officers who may need to quarantine because either they have been exposed to a presumed positive case of COVID-19 during the course of their work or perhaps they have a family member who is presumed positive and they can’t afford to be exposed themselves. The point of the quarantine is to help people who are well, to stay well.

“Our officers are used to facing dangers daily but aren’t used to bringing that danger home with them,” said Kiddle. “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.”

Dr. Laura Champion, director of Health Services at Calvin, was made aware of a similar housing need from Spectrum Health, one of Grand Rapids main hospital systems, which is bracing for a busy spring.

“They 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 Champion. “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.” 

Making room(s)

Calvin University has developed a trusted partnership with both GRPD and Spectrum Health over the years. And so, when they called for backup: Calvin responded.

It didn’t take university leaders long to find a solution. They decided to offer up a full floor of the university’s Prince Conference Center (PCC) to Spectrum Health employees and another full floor to the Grand Rapids Police Department. Each floor has 23 rooms available.

“We are grateful for all of the healthcare workers and local law enforcement officers who are serving on the front lines of this pandemic,” said Jim English, vice president for finance at Calvin University. “We see each other as trusted partners. More importantly, we see one another as neighbors, and this is a way we can live out our commitment of being good neighbors.”

The Prince Conference Center, which is currently closed to the general public, is located opposite the East Beltline from the main campus. The university is providing the rooms free of charge and is also allowing guests to order from Calvin Dining Services with free delivery.

In this together

“Based on certain criteria, team members may need a place to rest or isolate. We are grateful for the partnership we have with Calvin University,” said Pam Ries, senior vice president and chief human resource officer for Spectrum Health. “Providing housing at the Prince Conference Center helps our employees feel safe and keep their families healthy while they care for the community. Being able to get rest close to the hospital will help them be refreshed and ready for the work ahead.”

“Our priorities during the COVID-19 pandemic have been to balance the safety of our employees while continuing to serve and protect our community,” said Kiddle. “We are grateful that Calvin University is a trusted and reliable partner in this work. It is times like these where the community as a whole must come together to ensure victory for all.” 

It’s important to note that the healthcare workers and law enforcement officers staying at Prince Conference Center are doing so as a precautionary measure and are not positive or presumed positive for COVID-19. Both GRPD and Spectrum Health have housing plans in place for workers who may become presumed positive. 

Recent stories