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Viterbo University opens residence hall to area health care and emergency personnel as part of pandemic respons

When Viterbo University officials were approached by City of La Crosse and local hospital administrators about the possibility of using a campus residence hall, the answer was a resounding “yes.”

Viterbo’s Bonaventure Hall opened to local health care and other emergency personnel in mid-April. Local hospital employees, police, fire department, and EMS workers who have not been diagnosed with COVID-19 are able to utilize the building. There are no students living in the facility.

“We at Viterbo University are honored to support our community partners as we continue to confront the many challenges posed by the Coronavirus pandemic,” said Rick Trietley, Viterbo vice president for student affairs. “The founders of our university, the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration, have set an inspirational example of meeting the needs of society for more than 130 years, and we will do our part in keeping with this spirit and proud tradition.”

The transition from college residence hall to what is now affectionally nicknamed “Hotel Bona” was a smooth one, said Kirsten Gabriel, director of student life. The students who were living in the building and were asked to move were extremely cooperative. The prevailing attitude was and remains that everyone needs to do their part during this public health emergency.

Precautions have been implemented to ensure the safety of both community member guests and campus staff. These include the installation of a plexiglass screen for front desk workers, ample use of personal protective equipment, water soluble linen bags, and limiting contact whenever possible.

“Our community partners have been fantastic,” Gabriel said. “There is a great deal of mutual gratitude for the different ways we’re all supporting one another in the fight against COVID-19.”