MEXICO – The Los Pinos Cultural Complex, the presidential residence from 1934 to 2018 in Mexico, was transformed into a shelter for health personnel who care for COVID-19 patients, the government reported Monday.

The Mexican Social Security Institute (IMSS) and the Ministry of Culture jointly participated in the reconversion of the space, which was the residence of 13 of the last 14 Mexican presidents and is located in the legendary Chapultepec Forest in Mexico City.

This Monday, during the press conference of President Andrés Manuel López Obrador in the National Palace, the director of the IMSS, Zoé Robledo, explained that “the idea was to find spaces that could have rest, food and toilet areas, with everything they deserve who today are at the forefront of this battle “against the coronavirus, which already totals 24,905 infections and 2,271 deaths in the country.

He said that as of this day the place will be occupied by 58 doctors and nursing staff from Social Security who are attending the crisis, particularly from three places: the La Raza National Medical Center, the XXI Century National Medical Center and the General Hospital of the Tlatelolco, all in the Mexican capital.

Robledo assured that the place is ready to receive up to 80 people, that is, 22 more people who will arrive this day and with the possibility of growing to 100 places.

The IMSS, he said, “is asking who is interested, today the first ones are entering, and we believe that it will be a good place for them.”

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The official explained that the personnel residing in the place will be monitored for possible symptoms of the disease, in addition to emotional support for the exhausting and highly intense days during the most critical stages of the health emergency.

He specified that the spaces enabled in Los Pinos are the Casa Miguel Alemán, Cabana Number Two, three bedrooms of the former Presidential General Staff, the dining room of Molino del Rey, the old heliport and the soccer fields as recreational spaces.

He noted that the areas are distributed so that women and men are in separate spaces.

The place will have food, laundry area and change of bedding, cleaning and disinfection of bedrooms and common areas, supply of supplies and cleaning supplies.

Robledo explained that in order to make such a decision, an internal survey was carried out to find out who would be interested in this hosting service and the result was that 86% of the staff expressed interest.

The president warned that, according to forecasts, the most difficult moments are expected next week, just between May 6 and 10.

Among the main reasons why they opted for this alternative are to shorten the time they move from their homes to the medical unit where they work, avoid infecting family members who are part of vulnerable groups, and preserve their safety.

Meanwhile, the Secretary of Culture, Alejandra Frausto, through a Twitter message, indicated that in coordination with the IMSS they arranged “for a part of the Los Pinos Cultural Complex to become a medical residence for health sector personnel.”

In mid-April, the Mexico City government reported that it reached an agreement with hotel owners to offer medical staff free rooms near medical units during the COVID-19 pandemic.

At the start of the program they had registered 175 hotels with more than 1,500 rooms available.

When Andrés Manuel López Obrador became President of Mexico, he turned Los Pinos into a cultural center. He currently lives in the National Palace, where he offers a morning conference Monday through Friday.