Nurses calling hotels home while fighting on the front lines of pandemic

Instead of tourists, hotels and motels are filled right now with essential employees, many of them frontline workers choosing to stay away from their families as they fight the pandemic.

BOSTON — Instead of tourists, hotels and motels are filled right now with essential employees, many of them frontline workers choosing to stay away from their families as they fight the pandemic.

They’re willing to put their own lives at risk, but they won’t put their families in jeopardy.

“It’s been an emotional ride,” nurse Angela Carter told Boston 25 News in a video interview. “You always worry, especially as healthcare workers about coming home and potentially exposing them to this virus.”

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Some simply don’t have time to come home.

Carter, the wife of a Boston 25 News employee, is in the middle of a stretch of overnight shifts and, for now, calls a hotel home.

“This week is the first week our floor turned into an all-COVID floor, so this has been quite a change for all of us on my unit,” she said. “I think it’s one of those things that you take it day-by-day.”

Hotels are responding to the need, offering free rooms while also trying to keep their properties safe for workers.

There are hundreds of hotels that have signed up with the American Hotel and Lodging Association to provide temporary housing for emergency and healthcare workers.

A spokesperson for Red Roof Inn told Boston 25 News the hotel is among those donating rooms. Their chief marketing officer told us their set up works well for these situations because each room has an exterior door.

Carter says healthcare workers are also doing their part to keep everyone safe. They have their routines.

“All of the nurses, we have our own way of making sure that we don’t bring the virus home with us,” she explained. “I have personally at home a specific basket where I basically walk in and strip off my clothes and walk in and run into the shower and that’s my hospital basket and I even change my shoes at work.”

And they are doing the same – even at hotels.

“I come in, I take off my shoes as close to the door as possible, I have a little designated bag I put all my clothes in, the hotel itself is doing a great job about making sure they limit contact with people. They don’t offer housekeeping, obviously, if there are certain amenities they are happy to bring it up but we kind of stay in the room and once we leave they do a complete clean down,” Carter said.

It’s a stressful situation but among the mix of emotions is a sense of pride.

“I’m fearful for what is happening in the world, but at the same time, like, I’m so excited to jump in and kind of fight this thing head on,” Carter said.

The focus right now is on housing the health care community, but hotels are also gearing up to potentially be used as “alternative care sites” such as emergency hospitals or places for those quarantined to stay if needed.

It’s all part of a state plan the governor put forward late last month.

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