2020 | Coronavirus

County might help fund hotel rooms for hospital staff, first responders

Lodging would be used for rest between long shifts

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Montgomery County Council Member Hans Reimer, shown during a County Council meeting on March 3, proposed spending $250,000 on hotel rooms for hospital employees, first responders and frontline staff to use during the public health crisis.

File photo

As the strain of coronavirus cases grows, Montgomery County might help fund hotel rooms for medical employees, first responders and other frontline staff to use between long shifts.

At the Montgomery County Council’s Tuesday session, Council Member Hans Riemer proposed a special appropriation of $250,000 to assist in funding hotel rooms.

County staff members will look into whether local hotels or motels would provide rooms at reduced rates.

Adventist HealthCare, which operates Shady Grove Medical Center in Rockville, approached Riemer with the suggestion for the hotel rooms on March 20.

Riemer, the lead sponsor of the special appropriation, said any hospitals could take advantage of the rooms for their staff.

“We certainly know the hotels are facing total vacancies,” he said. “They have virtually no occupancy, so we’re hoping this is a win-win where it will help a few of our hotel operators to keep their lights on.”

Many hospitals have employees who live up to two hours away and don’t have time to rest between 16- or 18-hour shifts, Riemer said.

If the funds were approved, Riemer said, the county would ideally pay for $25 per hotel room each night. If there were an additional cost, hospitals might be asked to pick up the rest, he said.

County staff members are working on the details of contracts with the hotels.

“It’s very aspirational at the moment because it’s going to depend on what the hotels are willing to do,” Riemer said.

Briana Adhikusuma can be reached at briana.adhikusuma@bethesdamagazine.com.