Imagine you and your husband working on the frontlines in the fight against the Coronavirus. And that means making a hard but ultimately best decision to remove your family from harm’s way.
That’s exactly what University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health team members Alyson and David Schmidt did on March 12.
Their children, 11-year-old Zackary and 6-year-old Marcelina, were sent to live with David’s parents in Strasburg, Va., in the Shenandoah Valley. Joining them were David’s 90-year-old grandfather, who also lives with the Schmidts in their Street, Md., home.
Alyson is an Emergency Department tech at UM Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air. David works as a visitor management/security officer for UM Upper Chesapeake Health.
The couple shares a deep commitment to providing the best care to the community. They understand their roles as part of that commitment, including the long hours they are needed at work and how they may come into contact with patients who are experiencing Coronavirus symptoms.
“We are so fortunate to have team members who dedicate their lives–now and at all times–to keeping our community healthy and well. They provide compassionate care to all who seek it,” said Lyle E. Sheldon, FACHE, president/CEO of University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health. “The decision Alyson and David made to keep their children safe and well demonstrates their strong commitment to their family, to the community and to our patients. We commend them for their dedication and service.”
Given their commitment to health care, the decision to send their children away still wasn’t an easy one.
“We want to keep our community and our family safe,” Alyson explained. “I could never put my children in harm’s way and will do anything to keep them safe.”
Son Zackary’s premature birth 11 years ago is a reason why the Schmidts want to keep their family well and protected.
At his birth, three months earlier than expected, Zackary’s lungs were underdeveloped. He remained in the hospital (first at UM St. Joseph Medical Center, where he was born, and then at University of Maryland Medical Center) for several months while undergoing multiple surgeries. During each challenge the Schmidts faced, they braced for the worst, but Zack was and is a fighter. Today he is a healthy fifth-grader at North Bend Elementary School.
David and Alyson were so impressed with the health care team at University of Maryland Medical Center in downtown Baltimore and how committed they were to saving the life of their son that they gave up their careers in other fields to dedicate their lives to health care.
Today they are living their lives one day at a time. Alyson and David don’t know when their children will come home or when they will see them in person again.
Zackary has a cell phone and texts his parents daily. When Alyson and David are both off in the evening, they FaceTime their children. Sometimes the four try to watch a movie together, too.
“The best part of coming home after a long day at work is hugging your child, and you can’t do that through a phone,” Alyson said.
She empathizes with folks in the community. “I have my good days, and I have my bad days,” Alyson said. On her days off she makes masks and caps to keep busy and to stay productive.
Her advice to her fellow Harford Countians during this time is simple. “Stay vigilant. Wash your hands. Stay home. Go out only when absolutely necessary,” she said.
About University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health
University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Health includes the University of Maryland Upper Chesapeake Medical Center and the Patricia D. and M. Scot Kaufman Cancer Center on its Bel Air campus. Most recently, it opened The Klein Family Harford Crisis Center in Bel Air offering services for behavioral health. The Senator Bob Hooper House in Forest Hill is an assisted living facility that specializes in hospice. The University of Maryland Harford Memorial Hospital has been operating in the community for over a century and is located in Havre de Grace. The leading health care system and largest private employer in Harford County, UM Upper Chesapeake Health offers a broad range of health care services, specialty care, technology and facilities to the residents of northeastern Maryland. Visit www.umuch.org for more information.