We caught up with Scott Jeffries, an associate in our Seattle office, whose wife is currently working in the 36-bed COVID Patient Care Unit at the University of Washington (UW) Medical Center – Northwest Campus.
We asked Scott what it’s like having a loved one on the front line of the pandemic, how we can show gratitude for healthcare professionals, and what we can learn from this experience as designers.
First off, can you tell us more about what your wife, Mary, has been doing at the UW Medical Center – Northwest?
During the pandemic, Mary has been helping in any way she can and wearing many hats. Her roles have been charge nurse (a.k.a. floor boss); a ‘Dofficer’ on the COVID-19 floor and in the ER; helping staff ensure that their PPE is being used properly; and direct care of COVID-19 patients. She has also been trying to boost morale, doing things like bringing in homemade food for her coworkers. Recently, she has been styling her hair and wearing a bandana like Rosie the Riveter to foster the “We can do it” attitude.
What has it been like for you to have a loved one working on the front line of this viral pandemic?
It’s a bit unnerving knowing that Mary is in direct contact with the coronavirus for 12 or more hours a day and then coming home, only to do it again the next day. She has tested negative and we are all healthy and taking the precautions very seriously, but this nebulous monster that is lurking has taken its toll on us all emotionally and physically. I’m pretty sure that we’ve collectively affected the tilt of the earth due to the weight increase.
With Mary working 60+ hours a week and the kids out of school for the rest of the year, I’ve been trying to keep my children busy and educated-ish, hunt for toilet paper, and oh yeah, work. Luckily, we have a wonderful au pair who has been instrumental in making sure we’re all maintaining our sanity.
I’ve been amazed by the outpouring of community support we have seen. Our neighbors have been dropping off meals and bottles of wine. We talk to neighbors (at a socially responsible distance) who are asking how we’re doing and making sure we have everything we need. A couple of weeks ago, our neighborhood elementary school forwarded a request from Mary for baby monitors to help monitor the COVID patients. Since then we have had a constant stream of packages at our door with up to 10 monitors at a time, mostly from anonymous donors.
How can we show support and gratitude for all the healthcare professionals, caregivers, and other frontline responders out there?
Stay home. The tide appears to have turned in Seattle so let’s keep it up and continue to take it seriously. The social distancing seems to be having the intended effect.
From a design perspective, what can we learn from this whole experience?
One thing that I’ve learned from this is how much I value the daily interaction and collaboration with my coworkers. I miss seeing their faces and being able to turn around and have a conversation. My project is in construction and while I can easily review RFIs and submittals at home, I’d much rather be in the office.