Coronavirus: Gananoque, Ont., RV centre lends out units for health-care workers to self-isolate

The owner of the 1000 Islands RV Centre in Gananoque, Ont., is helping front-line health-care workers by loaning out units for free so that workers can self-isolate and reduce the risk of spreading the new coronavirus to their families.

Henry Boer says the idea came to him during a conversation he had with a neighbour who also happens to be a doctor.

“He has three young kids, one brand-new baby, of course, his wife at home, and he was concerned, as COVID-19 was starting to get more widespread, that he was going to have to think of a plan to self-isolate himself,” Boer explained.

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Boer says that conversation and hearing that another RV centre was offering its RVs led him to do the same.

A Facebook post about loaning out the RVs then led to an explosion of calls from health-care workers, he says.

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Boer says he and his employees had to regroup because he could only supply a limited number of units.

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“We were going to get to a point where we weren’t going to have enough units, so it was great to hear people who were volunteering their (units) and offering their units,” he said.

Along with getting RVs out to health-care workers, staff at the 1000 Islands RV Centre have now become matchmakers, establishing lists of health-care workers and RV donors.

“I’ve just been trying to field all the calls and I’ve been trying to answer them in order. If I haven’t got back to you, I apologize … it’s been overwhelming,” said RV centre employee Caroline Brawley.

Brawley says that with the literally thousands of phone calls, texts and online inquiries they’ve received, she’s started a Facebook group to try and streamline the process.

The group is called RVs for front-line workers and emergency response.

“If you are a front-line worker and you need a trailer to self-isolate, and if you have a trailer that’s sitting at home that you’d be willing to donate and loan to somebody, we’re hoping we can connect people that way,” Brawley said.

So far, 1000 Islands RV Centre has committed to loaning out about 20 of its units, with five delivered.

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Matt Bangma, one of Boer’s employees, has delivered some of those units to medical staff looking to self-isolate and protect their families.

“They’re so appreciative, and it’s very rewarding for myself,” Bangma said. “For these people to still be able to kind of go home and be on their own property and see their family, it’s a big difference for them.”

The 1000 Islands RV Centre staff say they have also been able to link seven medical workers with individuals donating their trailers.

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