VCU Converts Residence Hall Into Hospital for Non-COVID-19 Patients

A student walks past a mural in the library at Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Va. (AP Photo/Steve Helber)

By Arianna Coghill
March 27, 2020

Students were not notified of the work until after their possessions were moved

Virginia Commonwealth University announced they will be using campus residence halls to care for non-COVID-19 patients in the event of the VCU Medical Center reaching capacity. 

But the university failed to notify students before moving their belongings out for them. Many had no idea what was happening until a video of the dorms being cleared went viral on Wednesday.

“I was really shocked. I almost didn’t believe it was real,” freshman Leah Tyrell said in an interview with NBC 12. 

The residence hall was originally built as a hospital, and VCU has already started modifications to house patients that do not have COVID-19 and aren’t acutely ill. Students’ belongings were inventoried, boxed, labeled and relocated without their knowledge.

Several students went to Twitter to voice their outrage at the university’s actions.

VCU canceled in-person classes and moved to online courses during spring break, so many students have been off-campus for weeks.  According to Tyrell, the school promised students that they’d be allowed to properly move out. 

“I’m very happy VCU is stepping up and helping the Richmond area. We don’t care about that,” Tyrell said, “We are mad that we didn’t get a warning.”

The university issued an apology to the students on Thursday, stating that the use of the dorms was an emergency decision.

“A critical element of our work is communicating this to you,” said VCU in a statement, “But in our commitment to provide you with accurate and complete information about a project with many moving parts, we failed to get this information to you in a timely manner.”

VCU Residential Life and Housing sent students an email stating students could pick up their things at the Richmond Commercial Services from April 10 to Aug 1. However, they must call beforehand and schedule a pickup time.

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