Minnesota health care professionals treating COVID-19 patients have plenty of worries on their minds: Will the increasing number of patients outstrip their ability to treat them? Will they have enough personal protective equipment to keep themselves safe?

Then, when these providers leave work, they worry about infecting their family members at home, especially those with underlying health conditions.

Eden Prairie resident John Maring started a Go Fund Me page to raise money to donate hotel room nights so health care professionals treating COVID-19 patients can stay overnight after a shift if they’re concerned about bringing the virus home.

Maring, a board member of Union Gospel Mission who has long been active in the Twin Cities philanthropy community, was recently driving down I-494 when he noticed a hotel he’d visited. It got him thinking about how many rooms were probably sitting empty and how many health care workers might appreciate a place to stay. “I wonder if I could connect the two?” he thought.

Maring started contacting hotels and found more than 20 in the Twin Cities and Rochester that agreed to provide substantially reduced rates for the cause — most for the at-cost rate of $55 per night. Then he called the Minnesota Nurse’s Association and asked them to put out the word.

Maring launched his Go Fund Me page (gofundme.com/MinnesotaReallyNice) last Friday with a $5,000 donation, which was already matched by Monday morning. He hopes to raise enough to cover at least 300 rooms.

Maring expressed appreciation to Minnesota’s health care professionals, to individual donors, as well as Willmar-based TPI Hospitality, which is offering the discounted stays at 19 of its properties, and the Mille Lacs Corporate Ventures, offering reduced-rate rooms at its InterContinental St. Paul-Riverfront and two Doubletree hotels.

“We’re a very generous, philanthropic state and I think people want to help and they don’t know how,” Maring said. “This is one way people have an opportunity to make a difference.”

To book a room at one of the hotels listed on the Go Fund Me page, health care professionals can email hello@TPIhospitality.com for TPI properties and hcpsupport@intercontinentalstp.com for the other three, and must show their medical ID at check-in.