Frontline workers need look no farther than Henning Drive in Burnaby for a place to stay while self-isolating – and it will likely be free.
The local Accent Inn has rooms set aside for people such as nurses, doctors and others working through the COVID-19 crisis at a cut rate of $59 per night, according to Trina Notman, vice-president of marketing and communications for Victoria-based Accent Inns and Hotel Zed.
However, ever since announcing the new rate for frontline workers, Accent Inns has been inundated with calls from people wanting to cover the costs, she added.
“That was just a wonderful surprise,” she said. “The outpouring of support just Friday and through the weekend was amazing.”
Last weekend, Accent Inns partnered with the United Way of Greater Victoria to manage the donations, which go to the new Hotels for Frontline Workers Fund. It is part of the United Way’s Local Love in a Global Crisis Fund.
“Our phones were flooded by community members who wanted to pay for parts of people’s stay,” Notman said.
It all began when the company heard from a frontline worker in distress, according to Notman.
“Two weeks ago we got a call from a nurse at our Victoria property and she was on the verge of tears,” she said. “She was telling us her nurse friends were sleeping in their cars to avoid bringing the virus home to their families.
“It was quite shocking to hear. When you think about the people who are helping us through this crisis like our nurses and they’re sleeping in their cars, that doesn’t sit right with anybody,” she added.
Frontline workers such as nurses are working long days and don’t want to drive home and potentially expose their families to the virus, Notman said.
The company has sent out information on the rate to as many frontline workers as possible, including nurses, paramedics, grocery store and pharmacy employees.
And the Accent Inn in Burnaby is one of the locations that has rooms for frontline workers, many with nights paid for, she said.
“I really want to encourage people in Burnaby to call our 1-800 number if they want to self-isolate, if they’re worried about bringing anything back to their family, we definitely have enough funds to support them,” Notman said.
The hotel has 144 room nights available, she said.
As of Tuesday, they had 500 room nights that had been covered, she added.
“I had one comment from a nurse today, ‘I desperately want to not bring this home to my roommate, but I also can’t afford to pay any rate and also still pay my rent, and I also don’t want to ask for a handout, but once I called Accent Inns…’” Notman said. “We were so happy to take care of her, that it was such a relief for her. I’ve got a hundred of these stories, it’s just really heartwarming.”
Those wanting to pay for rooms for frontline workers can go to accentinns.com/essentialservices to donate. And frontline workers who need a place to stay can call 1-800-663-0298.