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An Epic donation: Local tech giant transforms former headquarters into daycare for COVID-19 frontline workers

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MADISON (WKOW) -- If you know the west side of Madison, chances are you know Epic's former headquarters building tucked away on Tokay Boulevard.

"We used it as an office space for about 15 years," said Sverre Roang with Epic Systems. "This was originally a school, so it's kind of going back to the original use of the building."

Within the next week or so, UW Health and Meriter will transform it into a child care center. The space is specifically for kids whose parents are at local hospitals treating patients with COVID-19.

Epic is lending use of the space for free.

"It's amazing to see our community come together and to be able to rally behind health care workers when they are already putting themselves out there," said Rachel Weber, the manager Meriter's children's center.

Based on what's happened in places like New York and Seattle, doctors in southern Wisconsin think it'll be only a matter of a week or two until there's a dramatic increase in patients locally.

"This is really going to be for healthcare workers who have no other choice, [who] have exhausted their village, [who] don't have a parent at home who's at home. This is that ICU nurse that gets called into work," said Weber.

The facility will operate around the clock, 24 hours a day and seven days a week.

The children will be spread out across the campus, as social distancing and hygiene are big priorities in the operation.

"Things that we do every day, they'll have hand washing and temperature checks when they come to school -- and cleaning. This building is going to be deep cleaned every 12 hours," said Weber.

Plus, the kids will be eating well. Epic's staff is covering the culinary work.

"The folks on the frontlines are going to be putting in an unbelievable amount of time and effort and energy, and so the idea of providing healthy and delicious food to kids, so they can have one less thing to think about was a great opportunity," said Roang. "And on top of that our culinary team is kind of excited about cooking for kids and not just Epic staff for once."

All involved want the child care center to be a safe space for kids and a representation of southern Wisconsin community pride.

"It really just shows how Madisonians come together and support each other," said Weber.

"The partnership with Meriter and UW Health and watching them gear up and making this happen, I mean it's absolutely been amazing," added Roang. "The community should be very thankful for everything that they're doing."

UW Health and Meriter appreciate the generosity, but ask that people not donate gently used items to the center for sanitary purposes. If you would like to help another way, contact the Meriter Foundation.

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Caroline Bach

Anchor, 27 News at 11

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