College Agrees to House UMPC Doctors and Nurses

Jacob DeCarli '22, Managing Editor

As cases of COVID-19 increase throughout the United States, Dickinson College has extended an invitation for local hospital staff to take shelter in campus residential halls. This announcement follows the college’s increasing efforts to assist the greater Carlisle community in combating effects of the disease.  

In an email sent to the Dickinson College community on April 3, President Margee Ensign updated the Dickinson College community with the possibility of housing medical staff from UMPC Carlisle. In the email, Ensign said that the CEO of UMPC reached out to the college with this request, only if the demand for medical staff increases. “These are our front-line fighters,” Ensign said in the email about local nurses and doctors.  

The college will not house medical staff in residential spaces currently occupied by students. According to Vice President of Marketing and Communications Connie McNamara, medical staff will be housed in the Historic President’s House, and possibly the Longsdorf and Armstrong dorms. Both dorms have been vacant due to the small first-year class size.  

Since Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf (D) announced a state-wide lockdown of non-life sustaining businesses, the college had to shut down and students had to move out. However, students could petition to stay on campus depending on their circumstancesApproximately 140 students are still living in their on-campus housing. 

Although the college has agreed to house medical staff, they will not come into contact with other students. They will not be permitted to access the HUB or dining hall. McNamara said that if students feel uncomfortable, “[T]hey could contact us [the administration] and we would relocate them.” 

Ensign commented on the potential to house medical staff. “We know they are working long hours under such challenging conditions. It is an honor to be able to assist them.” 

Many students had mixed reactions to the idea. Jack Olshen-Johnson ‘22 said it’s good to provide available housing, but he is concerned about the cleanliness of the dorms in the fall. “It also displaces those who are staying on campus,” he said. However, Nuhan Abid ’22, who still lives on campus, said it is a good decision since other schools opted to house local medical staff in their residential spaces. “I’m really glad the school [Dickinson College] is stepping up and making use of the space to help them,” he said.  

The move to house medical staff will depend on UMPC demand with cases involving Covid-19. If the number of COVID cases increase in Cumberland County and they get to a place where they need these services, they [UMPC] want to have arrangements in place,” McNamara said. Currently, there are 207 confirmed cases in Cumberland county with seven known deaths, and according to data provided by The New York Times, cases are now doubling every 11.5 days, as opposed to every 5 days weeks prior.  

“Colleges must be involved in their communities,” Ensign said, “We must be focused on the common good.”