But today there are not all the guests and furniture in the lobby, except for a table with a bottle of hand sanitizer, a box of face masks and a notice that reads, “Coughing and sneezing spread disease.”
A four-foot machine adorned with the phrase “Viruskiller” swirled behind the empty counter.
Hotel manager Alex Palagiou said the transition from a 4-star hotel to a makeshift medical facility was due to the need to help the country’s sick National Health Service (NHS).
“We’re very proud to be a part of this, so it’s a great feeling to be a part of something,” he said, “I believe everyone needs to come together to support the NHS and save lives.”
It is the first hotel in the UK to participate in the scheme, but if it succeeds, it could be a model for converting most of the hotel’s spare rooms, many of which lie empty amid the country’s blockade.
Hospital beds are a valuable commodity
The NHS is currently stunning in an unprecedented crisis with more coronavirus patients in hospital than at any point in the pandemic. A new, more contagious version of Covid-19, which authorities say is out of control, has led to record levels of infection.
And Prime Minister Boris Johnson has warned that the country’s intensive care units face a significant risk of being crushed by the disease, which has infected more than 3.2 million people and killed 84,000.
Hospital beds are now one of the most valuable commodities in the country, but so far there are only three patients recovering on the first floor of an otherwise empty hotel.
Hoteliers say health officials want to send hundreds of more Covid-19 patients.
“The hospitality industry is virtually closed, so we are all ready to open our doors and make people sick as soon as possible,” said Meher Nawab, CEO of the London-based hotel group of which Best Western is a part.
There are no medical staff at the Croydon hotel to support patients who are in the last days of the isolation period and need minimal care.
“My staff and I are very confident that everything will go smoothly and that we have created a safe environment for our staff and also for these patients with early discharge,” Palagiou explained.
Contactless food delivery is done three times a day and telephones are serviced around the clock in case of emergencies.
Staff completed a video training course provided by the NHS, strengthened their hygiene practices and installed air filtration systems throughout the building.
“The feeling is that we are not afraid,” Palagiou said when asked if he and his staff were reluctant to accept patients in Kovid.
“We are well trained and the standard of cleaning is higher than ever. So we are confident.”
The 4-star hotel is just around the corner from a large hospital, and staff here say they are desperate to provide some sort of respite for congested doctors and nurses.
Nearly half of the UK’s intensive care unit has been found to show signs of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), according to a study conducted in the summer of 2020 by King’s College London. Some of the respondents had thoughts of harming themselves, while others had turned to alcohol abuse.
The bosses of this hotel brand say that they keep in touch with the management of the NHS on a daily basis and hope that their spare rooms will be filled in the coming days.
“Through Best Western, we have over 5,000 hotel rooms available. A number of other (hotel) brands have approached us and we could get 10,000, 15,000, 20,000 hotel rooms open to support the NHS within weeks,” he said. Nawab.
As cases in the UK increase, healthcare professionals may soon take advantage of this offer.