A Message From the President
I am writing to provide more detail about conversations we have had with the Deputy County Executive regarding whether Vassar could accommodate patients in some of our vacant buildings, should the situation here in Dutchess County become dire.
The County approached all colleges in the area and asked if it could create a plan for potential use of some campus buildings if needed. At this time, this is a very remote possibility; our government officials are planning for the worst in order to be prepared. Much more planning would take place before this became a reality; however, our employees would not be expected to work in these buildings in any way, and we would work to ensure the areas housing and caring for patients were contained and properly separated from students and employees. The health and safety of our students and employees remain a top priority.
We have also made clear to the County that Vassar stands ready to help. We know the health and safety of the Vassar community are inseparable from the health and safety of the communities in which we are embedded. We believe that collaborative and creative resource sharing, as well as broad-scale cooperation, will be needed to meet the challenges presented to us by COVID-19 in our area, and Vassar must contribute its share. We have a 1,000-acre campus with many buildings currently vacant. We believe we can provide needed resources to our community, while still maintaining a safe environment for students and employees.
As you may have read, Dutchess Community College (DCC) has given permission for a very large dormitory to be used, with 457 beds. That will be the first step if needed.
If more beds are needed, other colleges may participate. At Vassar, this would likely be at the Walker Field House and possibly Alumnae House, both on the edges of campus, with separate entrances, and a substantial distance from students, faculty, administrators and staff.
Additionally, the County asked if dorms might be used. If we were to do this, any dorm selected would be completely empty, have a separate entrance, and be carefully managed to limit cross-contamination. The County has told me that the patients to be housed on college campuses would be recovering or mild cases only. If a plan to use Vassar’s facilities begins to develop, we will share more as we learn.
I understand this is a time of great anxiety for us all. Even in these times, however, we remain true to our core values. We are committed to being fully engaged in the larger community and helping our neighbors when we can. If the worst happens, and more hospital beds are needed, we will be ready to provide what is needed to both protect our students and employees and to help our surrounding community.
Elizabeth H. Bradley, President
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604