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Dutchess County Colleges Open Dorms for COVID-19 Care Recovery

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Dutchess Community College leads the way in the face of the coronavirus pandemic, with Vassar and Marist Colleges ready to help in Poughkeepsie.

There’s long been a link between Hudson Valley colleges and medical centers. Starting back in the 1800s with the Vassars (we’re talking the family that founded Vassar College and Vassar Brothers Medical Center) and extending all the way to the much-anticipated medical school partnership between Marist College and Health Quest in Poughkeepsie, meds and eds are a tale as old as time in the region.

We just never imagined they’d be quite this connected.

In light of the ever-increasing number of COVID-19 cases in New York State, Dutchess County Executive Marcus J. Molinaro announced that Dutchess County government is joining forces with Nuvance Health and MidHudson Regional Hospital to open a care facility at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie.As noted during a press conference on March 25, Molinaro explained that the campus’s Conklin Hall will be the site of a care recovery facility for COVID-19 patients.

The hall’s 176 rooms and 457 beds across four floors make it ideal to contain the overflow of patients who require hospitalization beyond the care they can provide for themselves at home. The DCC site will be an intermediary space, and one that helps to ensure the hospitals within the county can dedicate their efforts to patients with the most critical needs, while locals who require lesser treatments also receive the care they seek.

“We have been in constant communication with our local hospitals and providers to ensure we are prepared for what comes next,” Molinaro explains. “Our dedicated team of emergency preparedness and public health professionals has been working around the clock and, after a visit to Conklin Hall, we’re confident this will serve as an excellent recovery facility.”

Prior to the arrival of patients to Conklin, the hall will be outfitted with equipment and staffed by healthcare professionals and volunteers. If and when demand for care increases, Dutchess Community College’s Falcon Hall Gymnasium is available to host additional beds as well.

“We stand ready, willing, and able to help in whatever way possible during this public health crisis,” Dutchess Community College President Dr. Pamela Edington assures. “Dutchess Community College is delivering instruction remotely during this public health crisis and there will be no students living in the residence hall when this transition occurs.”

Dutchess County’s move to expand the number of care recovery centers ties in with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s efforts to slow the spread of the coronavirus while simultaneously increasing hospital capacity across the state. Although the bulk of the outbreak remains concentrated in New York City and Westchester County, Dutchess County saw its first coronavirus-related death on Friday, March 20.

While Dutchess Community Colleges is the first college in the county to be identified as a site for hospital overflow, it is not the only one. Vassar College President Elizabeth Bradley and Marist College President Dennis Murray have also volunteered their campuses for use as care facilities in the Hudson Valley should the need arise.

“As we continue to come together and pool our resources to confront this pandemic, we are making sure no source of assistance goes untapped,” Molinaro notes. To this end, he and Dutchess County’s government established Dutchess Responds to connect residents with opportunities to assist those in need.

The online portal is available via the county’s website and includes information about food assistance, monetary donations, and volunteering. Individuals can find information on ways to lend a hand or can browse directories on food pantries and meal resources for school-aged children. Current volunteer needs include staffing the county’s coronavirus call center (remote opportunities available), driving food and medicine to those in isolation, and assembling personal protective equipment (PPE) kits.

Any organizations that already have a community relief effort underway are encouraged to email dutchessresponds@dutchessny.gov with details.

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