Hospital workers across BC are facing longer work hours and heightened health risks, and some are even avoiding their homes altogether to prevent bringing COVID-19 to their families.
But a local hotel chain is now leading the bleeding hospitality industry with a comfortable and safe solution for essential service workers, by providing them with free room nights made possible by donations.
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Accent Inns initially created the Essential Service Worker Offer — a significantly reduced, at-cost rate of $59 per night — for its properties after receiving a call from a nurse at a Victoria hospital who brought to their attention that hospital workers are in need of temporary accommodations.
“She was desperate and was on the verge of tears on the phone. She told us that some nurses were sleeping in their cars so that they don’t take the virus home to their elderly parents or children, and many nurses are working 14 hour days with only a short time between their next shift,” Trina Notman, the spokesperson for Accent Inns and Hotel Zed, told Daily Hive.
“They needed a safe place to get some real rest between shifts and keep their families safe.”
While other hotel properties were shuttering, they rolled out the offer to all of their properties in Victoria, Burnaby, Kamloops, and Kelowna. The offer is open to workers that include doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals, as well as grocery store workers.
Word quickly got out in the community about the hotel’s initiative, which led to a flood of donations that fully cover the cost of a worker’s overnight stay. The company then partnered with the United Way of Greater Victoria (UWGC), and within 24 hours they established the Hotels for Frontline Workers Fund.
As a direct result of community donations, as of today, all workers that have booked a stay have had their costs completely covered. But Accent Inns needs more donations to be made through UWGV in order to continue offering free rooms to these workers.
She says the feedback from their special guests has been “a mix of great relief and gratitude to the community.”
There has also been random and unexpected support from the communities in other ways, added Notman, like an individual who offered to commercially disinfect all outdoor areas of the hotel. Other individuals offered to bring flowers to the rooms, while teachers wanted their children to write letters for these workers.
At Accent Inns location in Victoria, their in-house food and beverage operator, Bin 4 Burger Lounge, is offering a free meal every day to all frontline workers staying at the property.
“It’s a movement!” she exclaimed.
She noted that the 203-room Accent Inns in Richmond, is not part of the offer, as it has been completely reserved by the federal government to provide repatriated Canadians arriving at Vancouver International Airport with the accommodations they need to perform their mandatory self-isolation.
If it comes down to it, she says the company would also be willing to allow the provincial government to use their properties for overflow healthcare capacity.
The company’s background on their offer states Accent Inns properties are a uniquely safe choice for self-isolation, unlike traditional hotel properties.
All rooms are accessed by outdoor corridors, allowing guests to go directly from their vehicle to their room with minimal contact. The buildings are only three storeys, so no elevator trips are required.
The exterior access provides safe and convenient drop-off for meals and groceries, and each room has its own separate air conditioning and heating unit.
As a precaution, housekeeping teams are performing enhanced cleansing and disinfecting measures for their properties.