As COVID-19 continues to spread throughout the country with 3,257 cases in North Carolina as of April 7, many states and counties are scrambling to find room for the overflow of patients. Providers around the country, including Novant and Atrium Health, are mobilizing resources to convert vacant university residence halls to house the surplus of patients. UNC Charlotte will be one of these field hospitals.
On April 2, Chancellor Philip L. Dubois sent an email to students and faculty announcing that he would be “pledging the full cooperation of the University to the county and state as needed in the days ahead” in the fight against COVID-19. UNC Charlotte has been working in conjunction with local and state authorities throughout this crisis, and temporary health care facilities will be established in UNC Charlotte’s campus.
In the email, Chancellor Dubois stated that residence halls in South Village including Holshouser, Hunt, Laurel, Levine, Sanford and Scott halls will be used if the situation worsens; however, many students were told to leave their belongings in their dorms due to the shelter-in-place order directed by Mecklenburg County. The University has been working on a way to allow residents to collect their remaining belongings by planning a schedule that allows for proper social distancing. While this plan was not detailed in the email, it was stated that the University was granted an exception for the shelter-in-place order.
Residents that left their belongings in other residence halls will not be allowed access to their belongings. According to Resident Assistant Aliyah Navarro, students with belongings in South Village were allowed to retrieve their belongings from April 4 to the 6. In order to follow the social distancing guidelines set out by the CDC, students had to schedule their check out timings and were only allowed one person to help them move out.
According to data from Mecklenburg County, residents from the area could see as many as 8,900 hospitalizations by April 25 if residents do not follow the shelter-in-place order. This would surpass the number of hospital beds that are currently available in health care facilities around the Charlotte-Mecklenburg area. UNC Charlotte’s South Village residence halls would add an additional 2,500 temporary beds, which would make it one of the largest temporary hospitals in the country according to the Charlotte Observer.
In a joint letter from Atrium and Novant Health the two CEOs stated, “We are very fortunate to have a community asset such as UNC Charlotte, which has a long history of not only serving the educational needs of our state, but also a long-standing commitment to the health and social needs of the greater Charlotte region.” With additional support from the University, state and federal government, Charlotte would be properly prepared for the spike in cases as stated in the letter.