Every day, Laura Schnell does anywhere from 20 to 40 one-to-one COVID-19 assessments on anyone who comes into Calgary’s Sunridge Mental Health Clinic.
The registered psychiatric nurse also does followups with patients at the clinic whose needs are more urgent or who need additional consultation on things like medications.
Schnell is also a wife and mother of three, and says the biggest source of her stress right now is that she could bring the virus home with her, possibly making her family sick.
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“We go in and we do what we do because we love our jobs and it’s our passion,” Schnell said on Wednesday as she spoke about herself and other front-line health-care workers.
“We also want to make sure that we protect our families.”
One of the possibilities Schnell and her family have been preparing for is that she may have to self-isolate away from her husband and children, and how and where she would do that.
Once avid campers, the idea popped into their minds that if they still had an RV, she could live in there for the duration of any potential quarantine. She then took to Facebook, posting in an Airdrie moms group, asking if anyone had — or knew of anyone who had — the resources to donate a couple of RVs to health-care workers needing to isolate.
The post took off and before long, Bruce Urban, the owner of Western RV, was offering up “whatever you need, whenever you need it.”
“It was very heartwarming and it was a very happy tears moment just knowing that I had that option to keep my family safe,” Schnell said.
Schnell said that every day when she leaves work, she sanitizes her car when she can find wipes, showers as soon as she walks in the door and that she also does her laundry every day in an attempt to keep the virus out of her busy home. Two of her children are toddlers and her husband has underlying health problems that put him at higher risk.
She said the “magnitude” of the gesture is “hard to fathom.”
“It kind of restores faith in humanity in times like these,” Schnell said.
“When somebody does something like that even though his business is struggling.
“People forget there are good people out there who just want to help people out.”
For Urban, it was a no-brainer.
“These medical workers are scared,” he said. “And they put on a brave face every day and they go to work and they have to come home to their families, They’re scared, they’re on the front lines, they’re human beings.
“They’re going to their job and caring for other people. So society needs to step in and care for them in every way possible. And this is our little way to give back from the industry we’re in.”
Western RV itself, like countless other businesses, is closed down. But some workers volunteered to come in and get the RVs ready to ship out.
“These are worrisome times,” Urban said. “Everybody deals with fear differently and we need to reach out to others.
“If there’s ever a time in our lives to reach out and give back and reach out to others in any way we possibly can, now is the time.”
Urban said his business plans to send out about half a dozen RVs across the city in the next 48 hours and will continue providing them to anyone who needs one in the days to come. He said they’re making sure the RVs are being set up in the proper places and where people have access to electricity and proper parking.
Urban is encouraging other dealers to do the same for the people he calls the “heroes of society.”
Schnell said she doesn’t have an RV on her property just yet, but she thinks it’s only a matter of time, and that “thank you doesn’t suffice” when it comes to Urban’s generosity.
“I am so grateful knowing that if and when I need this, I have that option and that he has offered this to other front-line workers who are tired and they’re struggling, and we know that this is likely only the beginning and we have someone behind us just giving us that extra push, saying, ‘Keep going, we got you.’
“If I do end up having to self-isolate, he could be actually literally saving people’s lives. This is what we do and he’s doing it without even realizing it.”
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