Agreement provides campus housing for BMH staff battling COVID-19

Agreement provides campus housing for BMH staff battling COVID-19 

April 14, 2020 

In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Maryville College closed its campus facilities to the public on March 19, but two residence halls soon will open to accommodate staff members of Blount Memorial Hospital.

The College announced today that it had signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with the hospital that will allow housing for up to 80 staff members, beginning April 20, at no cost to the hospital.

“For decades, the College and the hospital have been strong partners, and we are happy to be able to fill this need for housing,” said Dr. Tom Bogart, president of Maryville College. “Most importantly, we recognize that our agreement supports the health and vitality of the entire community.

“Our current strategic plan commits the College to ‘living our mission as a community and with our community,’ and this kind of collaboration is exactly what that commitment looks like.”

According to the president, hospital staff members will be housed in the Court Street Apartments and suites inside Beeson Village. All are self-contained units with separate bedrooms, bathrooms and kitchens.

Don Heinemann, chief executive officer for Blount Memorial Hospital, said the request was made to provide an alternative living option for staff who work in specific areas of the hospital and who prefer not to go home and be in close proximity to their families after their shifts. Also, the proximity of the Maryville College campus to the hospital (they are located across the street from each other) means a reduction in staff members’ commute times after long shifts.

“We appreciate the College’s continued support of the hospital’s efforts to prepare for an outbreak of COVID-19 in our community,” Heinemann said. “Our partnership with the College began long before we first opened our doors to the community in 1947, as the College was instrumental in helping us secure land and funds to open a new hospital.

“For more than 70 years, Maryville College has continued to be a strong community partner that has helped us with a variety of initiatives, all of which ultimately benefit Blount County,” Heinemann continued. “The College’s commitment to being a reliable and trusted community partner is a partnership we value tremendously.”

In the MOU, both parties agree to follow guidelines for the prevention of transmission of the COVID-19 virus outlined by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

The housing arrangement will continue through “no later than July 31 without authorization of the College.” Blount Memorial Hospital has committed to provide thorough cleaning of the premises at the termination of the agreement.

Classes for Maryville College’s fall semester are scheduled to begin Aug. 26. 

MC employees donate to hospital

The housing arrangement is the latest example of collaboration between the hospital and College. On March 31, the College announced that two of its math and computer science professors, Dr. Chase Worley ’11 and Dr. Jesse Smith ’08, were using 3D printers to create face shields for the hospital’s healthcare workers. As of April 8, they had produced about 140 (including 10 face shields for employees at East Tennessee Medical Group).

Staff member Brenda Eingle is sewing face masks at her home. To date, she has made and delivered 55 for hospital employees. Eingle soon will be sewing masks made from a special medical-grade fabric provided by the hospital that can be sterilized.

Other MC employees who are sewing masks include Michele DiDiego, Dr. Maria Siopsis, Ramona Ferguson Crawford ’07 and Dr. Shahla Ray.

Maryville College is a nationally-ranked institution of higher learning and one of America’s oldest colleges. For more than 200 years, we’ve educated students to be giving citizens and gifted leaders, to study everything, so that they are prepared for anything — to address any problem, engage with any audience and launch successful careers right away. Located in Maryville, Tennessee, between the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and the city of Knoxville, Maryville College offers nearly 1,200  students from around the world both the beauty of a rural setting and the advantages of an urban center, as well as more than 60 majors, seven pre-professional programs and career preparation from their first day on campus to their last. Today, our 10,000 alumni are living life strong of mind and brave of heart and are prepared, in the words of our Presbyterian founder, to “do good on the largest possible scale.”