Saint Mike O’Rourke! Or: Worcester’s Rooming Houses – our next COVID-19 hotspots? The Albion’s O’Rourke thinks Yes! 🏙️🌇

By Rosalie Tirella

Never mind the church at Adams Square holding services for 20, 40 congregants – spreading the coronavirus throughout Worcester:
pic: R.T.

Yesterday I talked with the Albion Rooming House’s owner – Mike O’Rourke – and he said THE CITY’S ROOMING HOUSES ARE THE PERFECT BREEDING GROUNDS for COVID-19. Worcester needs to step up.

Mike, before his beloved Albion. pics:R.T.

Mike is a saint: He took over the huge formerly crime-, drug-ridden, bed-bug-filled Main South rooming house a few years ago AND TURNED THINGS AROUND BIG TIME! No more building code violations for the Albion, on Main Street. Mike repainted rooms, repaired stuff, works with the City of Worcester building and code dept and the Worcester Police. O’Rourke takes care of – cares about! – his boarders. Decorates the front yard /entrance to the Albion for Christmas! Love rules here now …

So, naturally, Mike O’Rourke stepped up during these COVID 19 days. He had his boarders/tenants tested for the novel coronavirus. A few tested positive. He isolated them in their rooms and informed all his other boarders they must shelter in place – quarantined everyone. AND BOUGHT FACIAL MASKS AND GLOVES FOR ALL HIS BOARDERS. AND INSTALLED HAND SANITIZER DISPENSERS on walls in rooms throughout his building.

The Albion Rooming house, Main South.

Mike kept, is keeping, everyone in his building healthy. He gets breakfast, lunch and dinner donations from Billy Riley of St. Johns Church Food for the Poor program and city nonprofits. Mike feeds everyone so well! He buys folks meals, even, if they seem especially unwell, hungry. “I go to the Pickle Barrel for (meals for) them,” he said. Strictly takeout. “They are down on their luck,” he said of his tenants. “You have to take care of them.”

St. O’Rourke is right!

His tenants, like the tenants of all Rooming Houses in Worcester – 20 or so buildings – are the city’s most vulnerable folks. They are down on their luck and highly susceptable to the highly contagious novel coronavirus. They are poor, mostly alone in the world, have underlying health challenges such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma … malnourishment. Living together, in close quarters, makes things tough for them during this global pandemic.

Yet Mike has kept all his boarders/tenants healthy! More so than other places in Worcester – many health facilities. At Mike’s Albion no one had to be hospitalized. The COVID 19 “patients” Mike had displayed only mild iterations of the COVID 19 disease – he kept them fed and healthy so their resistance was strong. And he made them, as best he could, stay in their rooms. They coughed … but did not get pneumonia. Mike made sure they were eating well. Everyone else at the Albion sheltered in place and wore their PPE. Mike is there every day, staying on top of them. CARING FOR ALL.

City Hero Mike O’Rourke believes the 20 or so rooming houses in Worcester are filled with COVID 19, but their managers/owners of are in denial. Won’t test their tenants. Do not want the hassle. Will not admit their buildings may harbor the virus, are potential COVID 19 Worcester hotspots. Their boarders go out into the city … are spreading the coronavirus throughout Woo as I write this …

“The City has to have the same standards for all Rooming Houses,” Mike told me. “We need to be doing the same thing” to prevent the spread of the virus.

Take it from a guy who hasn’t lost one patient, one tenant one soul – not even to the DCU field hospital or the new Covid 19 Hotel in town!

O’Rourke’s Albion building is a Woo success story. A beacon of hope for all rooming houses in the state. Here, Science and Love came together. In Main South. ♥️♥️♥️♥️

Happy Birthday, Stevie Wonder!♥️