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'I tell my wife to get away.' Facing coronavirus fears, nurses and doctors try to protect their own families.

Alison Bowen, Chicago Tribune on

Published in Parenting News

CHICAGO -- Home should be a refuge. But for people reporting to a hospital during the coronavirus crisis, home is just one more place to dread.

Doctors, nurses and others working at Illinois hospitals where COVID-19 patients are being treated fear returning to their families, who might be more at risk because of invisible dangers they unwittingly bring home.

Each has a routine. It usually looks like this: Disrobe. Leave scrubs in the garage. Bleach shoes. Run to the shower. No hugs from the children, no welcome from a spouse. Shower, scrub.

For Terence Yee, an intensive care unit nurse at the University of Illinois at Chicago, there is no option but to come home. He and his wife, Sweet Vivares Yee, are both nurses; they have three teenagers to take care of.

Both enter through the garage. They take off all of the scrubs from work. They put them directly into the washing machine. Shoes stay in a nearby plastic container. Walking into the house, they go directly to the shower.

Only after a hot shower does he return to begin the laundry.

 

This, he hopes, will protect their daughters.

"We have to change the way we come home," he said. "You don't want to take it home."

Yee said they take vitamins to try to remain as healthy and resilient as possible; other health care workers who shared their processes mentioned taking household temperatures at night or washing a jacket with soap and water.

One doctor sent an example of a 10-step list she has sent to colleagues, which begins with "shower if possible and change out of work clothes" and includes cleaning steering wheels, wiping down keys, pens and glasses, and keeping one's phone in a clear, zip-close bag. The list ends with the note: "You are clean. Relax. Enjoy your evening."

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