ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — The Hilton Garden Inn across from Albany Medical Center will now serve as a respite for healthcare workers on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19. The hotel will temporarily be known as “Heroes Landing.”
Doctors, nurses and other medical professionals from Albany Med and St. Peter’s Hospital can clock out of their long, exhausting shifts and head right to the hotel where they can clean up, decompress, and recharge whether it’s for the night or just a few hours.
The idea for the program was spearheaded by SEFCU’s President and CEO, Michael Castellana, but he tells News10 they have also collaborated with other community partners including BBL Hospitality, CDPHP, and MVP.
“I gave the owners a call and there was no hesitation from BBL hospitality,” said Castellana.
He said it took less than a week from the conception of the idea to the time it all came to fruition.
“Many of them [nurses/doctors] don’t want to go back to their families and risk bringing the virus home,” said Castellana. “If they’re lucky they’re going to get four hours to get a little bit of shut eye, a shower and food, and they’re right back in the fray. We want all of these folks to know that their community is standing behind them 110%.”
As soon the the healthcare workers walk through the door of the hotel they receive a care package, a warm meal and access to a room — at no charge.
Entrances to the hotel are staffed by SEFCU employee volunteers who are taking temperatures and checking badges to make sure the only guests coming in are healthcare workers.
Executive Director of Saint Peter’s Hospital Foundation, Shannon Galuski, is the one who came up with the name.
“We are so fortunate in this area for the healthcare we have and the community partners we have,” Galuski said.
She tells NEWS10 ABC these men and women truly are heroes on the front lines.
“We have nurses in our ICU that are everything to these patients; they are the caregiver and the support system because their family can’t be there. I mean, we have a nurse that was providing last rights on an iPad with a minister guiding her through it,” said Galuski.
Galuski said dozens of healthcare workers have already taken advantage of this opportunity and that they are immensely grateful.
“Our hope is really to make sure they know they have a safe place and that they know how many people are behind them and how grateful everybody in the community is for all of the work that they’re doing,” said Galuski.
The community partners are working with the infectious control teams at both hospitals to make sure all the proper safety protocols are in place.
“Century linen is one of our partners as well and they were able to ensure that they would launder the linens and towels every evening. We’re screening at the door and were making sure everyone there has necessary PPE,” said Galuski.
“As long as we’re in crisis, we’re going to continue to do this,” said Castellana.
Individuals and businesses who are interested in supporting “Heroes Landing” should email Helping@heroeslanding.org.