Kingsville Hotel provides free accommodations for essential workers during pandemic
Since March, the Grove Hotel in Kingsville has offered free accommodations for essential workers who are unable to stay at home due to the risk of spreading COVID-19.
The boutique hotel features 18 unique rooms, but they were left empty as the pandemic as halted their business.
"We chose rather than running the other way, we thought we could really step up. We have the rooms available and there was a need so we thought it was the right thing to do," says Jennifer Flynn, general manager at The Grove Hotel.
Originally, the hotels plan was to open the rooms for healthcare workers wishing to isolate away from family after work. After getting countless calls from a variety of essential workers, their 'Hotel for Heroes' program has also welcomed firefighters, paramedics and police officers.
Gary Neufeld, a 16-year firefighter with Windsor Fire and Rescue Services, has stayed at the hotel for the last two months. The essential nature of his job put him in a dilemma because his youngest daughter had open-heart surgery and deals with unresolved respiratory issues.
"Not being able to put my kids to bed, say prayers with them at night. It’s difficult when I phone call or a face time," says Neufeld.
He stops by his home every couple of days to complete yard work and spend time with his family outside while social distancing.
"Gloves and masks on at all times when I’m in the house. I try not to wander too much. Even though it is our house I try not to take full freedom of being there," he says.
Another temporary resident of the hotel is Isaac Hamilton, a paramedic with Essex Windsor EMS. As a recent graduate, Hamilton began his career in February, right before the start of the pandemic.
"I started right in the fire. We’ll put a full gown on, our goggles and we call it our P100 cartridge mask. We put that on if they screen (COVID-19) positive," he describes his pandemic protocol.
Hamilton rents a room in house of an 84-year-old woman in Tecumseh. Knowing the elderly are more vulnerable to the virus, he decided to look for alternate accommodations.
"Given her age I didn’t want be responsible for anything to happen. The Grove Hotel has been very helpful. It gives me that security that I’m not exposing anyone," he says.
Many essential workers have called the hotel 'home' for over a month. The staff and residents say their unique situation during this unprecedented time has sparked a new sense of family.
"It’s been wonderful to meet and hear their stories. It’s amazing what some people do. We are certainly becoming a family," says Flynn.
"The stay feels at home for sure. I’ll definitely look back at this and be able to remember it for the rest of my life," adds Hamilton.