Tyler partners with Hand Up Network to provide respite facility for first responders

Hands Up Partnership 10PM

TYLER, Texas (KLTV) - A new partnership in Tyler will provide a place to rest for first responders and healthcare workers who don’t want to go home for fear of exposing loved ones to COVID-19.

It will also be a place for first responders who have tested positive for COVID-19 or are waiting for test results.

Tyler Mayor Martin Heines announced Friday that Hand Up Network has agreed work with the city to provide oversight and management to First Responder Respite Care Facilities located at Tyler Junior College.

Sam Smith, the CEO of Hand Up Network, said the facilities will be available for use by doctors, nurses, police officers, EMS, firefighters and other first responders.

“It’s all the people that are actually working out there on the front lines that are looking for an opportunity to be able to go out and basically be able to get a place to rest without having to go home and maybe expose elderly at home or family members," Smith said.

The effort includes two buildings on the TJC campus.

“The second building that we have obviously is a respite care but it’s for people that possibly have been exposed or they’ve been tested for the COVID-19. We’re putting them into a 14-day quarantine, and they’re able to quarantine here in this facility and from that perspective we can keep an eye on them and make sure we take care of them medically. But they’re also in a place where they’re not infecting anyone else, and they’re being taken care of properly," Smith said.

The dorm facilities have enough space to accommodate nearly 300 people.

“So, there’ a lot of good that’s going to be able to be done here for these guys that are putting it on the line for us,” Smith said.

The Hand Up Network is also looking for volunteers to help put together gift bags for first responders.

“We also want the kids in our community to write notes to these heroes and tell them how much they appreciate them. You know, just put a little note of encouragement in there because this is really hard work. These people are exhausted when they come in the door. We feed them and we put them to bed basically and then they get back up and they go do it again,” he said.

Smith said they also need organizations to help with food.

Anyone interested in supporting this effort can call (903) 597-5334 or click here to email. More info about can also be found at the Hand Up Network’s website.

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