Motorhomes and travel trailers are playing a somewhat unexpected role in the country’s battle with COVID-19.
While some RV owners quickly turned to their motorhomes as an elegant form of social distancing, the vehicles are also directly benefiting healthcare workers and nationwide testing abilities. Manufacturers, dealers and suppliers have stepped up to support the country’s medical professionals in the last month.
Communities in Texas, New England, Indiana and across the globe have found relief in the RV industry, thanks in part to a viral Facebook group created in March.
The “RVs 4 MDs to Fight the Corona Virus” page went live on March 24 and has now grown to more than 24,000 members working to connect medical professionals with RVs. The volunteer group matches RV owners, manufacturers or dealers with front line nurses, doctors and other people fighting the pandemic in need of facilities.
What began as a neighborhood effort in Prosper, Texas has now expanded to match RV donors or campsites with recipients across America, Canada, Australia and Dubai, according to the group.
“People are coming out of the woodwork, that once felt powerless – and now they have purpose,” said group founder Emily Phillips.
RVs provided by the group can serve as temporary housing for doctors or nurses who are not currently living at home out of concern for spreading the coronavirus. Some hospitals are also using the motorhomes and travel trailers as mobile testing sites.
The National Association of RV Parks and Campgrounds (ARVC) announced a partnership with RVs 4 MDs on Monday, April 21. ARVC members with available sites or RVs can sign up to offer free RV sites or other accommodations for health care personnel seeking a place to stay during the crisis.
David Basler, ARVC Vice President of Membership and Marketing, said he has been impressed with the RV industry’s response to the public health crisis.
“One of the things about this situation we’ve found ourselves in is the unification of the industry,” Basler said. “There wasn’t a line between whether you are a partner or not… Everybody jumped in and helped out.”
Outside of the RVs 4 MDs group, industry leaders are finding ways to support healthcare workers across the county.
Gulf Stream Coach provided a travel trailer to the South Bend Clinic for use as a mobile COVID-19 testing facility in Elkhart County this week. The company announced its donation on Wednesday.
The Elkhart mobile testing center is located off East Jackson Blvd. in the parking lot adjacent to the Elkhart Aquatic & Fitness Center. It is open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Monday-Friday.
“The South Bend Clinic is sincerely grateful for the generosity of Gulf Stream for providing a way for us to continue our COVID-19 testing outreach efforts,” said Kelly Macken-Marble, CEO of the South Bend Clinic. “It is important for the Elkhart community and surrounding areas to have testing capabilities outside St. Joseph County. This is another example of how we are all coming together to better serve the needs of the community.”
In Boston, media outlets are reporting that drive-thru coronavirus sites are becoming more popular across the state.
Brigham and Women’s Hospital recently opened up a mobile testing lab in a motorhome after hospital staff reconfigured the RV to serve their testing needs, according to WHDH Boston.
WHDH reported that the hospital wanted to reach vulnerable communities as quickly as possible.
Last week, a fleet of Kirby Auto Group RVs headed to the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. Kirby Auto Group donated a dozen of its RVs to be used for housing and facilities at Ventura County Medical Center and Santa Paula Hospital in California.
“Immediately, we are all in to help our health community in time of a crisis,” Kirby Auto Group President Jeff Sukay said.
Doctors, nurses and other staff will continue using RVs for secure housing or mobile testing facilities in the near future.
Below is a list ways to connect with the RVs 4 MDs organization:
To become an RV Donor, the first step is to join the public Facebook group, and then complete and submit this designated Google Form.
Front line medical/healthcare workers or first responders currently affected by COVID-19, can join the public Facebook group, and then complete and submit the designated Google Form.
To volunteer for RV’s for MDs, please contact Amber Bouton at [email protected] If a company or organization would like to discuss a partnership with RVs for MDs, please contact LaRayne Quale at [email protected]