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COVID-19 Update April 5: Taking Care of Our Own

Dear members of the Saint Louis University community, 

On this Palm Sunday, we are called to remember service, dedication and sacrifice. This year, in particular, sacrifice is clearly present in our lives — but especially in the lives of our colleagues and alumni working as health care providers, or otherwise on the frontlines of the COVID-19 crisis.

I write today to ask that you continue praying for our health care workers. Your prayers – and your generosity – go a long way. 

In a previous message, I shared that as students who remain on campus were consolidated into several residence halls, we would begin to make other on-campus housing available to our community. 

In partnership with SLUCare and SSM Health, we recently made more than 180 rooms available in Reinert Hall to our physicians, nurses, mid-level practitioners, technicians and other staff who do not feel comfortable traveling home and, perhaps unknowingly, expose their families to COVID-19.

Additionally, we have designated isolated housing on campus for those medical providers who have either tested positive for COVID-19, or who are symptomatic and are awaiting test results. That designated housing is in our Grand Forest Apartments, a series of 21 buildings on the east side of campus. We already have a few medical providers who are isolating in those apartments. Should these pending test results come back positive, the community would be notified through our RAVE notification system.

Grand Forest is also available for use by other emergency operations personnel, such as DPS officers, facilities team members, and other non-clinical employees to self-quarantine and self-isolate — as an alternative to doing so at home.

Similarly, we have designated space in our Village Apartments should any of our students who live on campus need to isolate while they wait for test results or after they test positive. As of this email, we have had no on-campus students with a need for isolated housing.

Please know these spaces were chosen in consultation with our public health experts. These spaces are isolated from core parts of campus, minimizing risk of contact for our community. They also allow our medical teams safe, easy access to provide patient care.

Last week’s successful housing consolidation, and the timely availability of housing for our clinical and non-clinical staff, would not be possible without the coordinated efforts of Director Manisha Ford-Thomas and her Housing and Residence Life staff, and Vice President for Facilities Services Michael Lucido and his cleaning and maintenance crews.

I am proud that we are able to serve those who serve our community, selflessly, every day. This pandemic reminds us how critical it is to serve however we can. With that in mind, I want to encourage you to read this thoughtful piece about keeping faith during a time of isolation, from Father David Meconi, S.J., the director of SLU’s Catholic Studies Centre, and Sister Virginia Herbers, ASCJ, the director of spiritual formation in SLU’s Office of Mission and Identity. I leave you with this quote, from Sister Virginia: 

“We are living in a frightening time, but life in itself is good, and there is so much good in life that I don’t want to forget about it."

May God bless you and Saint Louis University.

Fred P. Pestello, Ph.D.

Previous Updates to the SLU Community