WALNUT CREEK, Calif. (KRON) — A Bay Area nurse treating coronavirus patients has been paying thousands of dollars to stay in a hotel in order to keep his husband from getting sick.
The separation is taking a financial and emotional toll.
But now, things may have gotten worse because this nurse has just learned he might be infected after all.
For the past five weeks, a hotel room is what E.R. nurse Chad Baker has been calling home.
He’s been staying there alone and so far has paid up to $4,000 dollars to keep someone he loves very much from getting very sick.
“We’ve opted to live separately just so that I don’t give it to my husband inadvertently,” Chad said.
Baker has been working long hours at Kaiser Permanente Richmond where he’s been treating COVID-19 patients.
He’s been staying away from his actual home in San Leandro because his husband Tom has respiratory issues and a compromised immune system.
“We are exposed to the unknown everyday,” Chad said. “But during this time we know the threat is coming.”
And that threat may have arrived.
Chad says the separation was the right move because now he’s feeling sick.
“Congestion, some feverous moments, some cough,” he said. “I was swabbed and I’m waiting for the results. I don’t know.”
Chad is expecting to get those test results on Monday.
The payment for this separation is more than the couples mortgage, but Chad’s husband Tom says the finances have become less important than the emotional strain.
“It is truly life saving for me and what an act of love to save my life,” Tom said.
Tom says they talk over the phone and Facetime several times a day. However, nothing is quite like being together.
“Having him in a hotel trying to protect me, and now that he’s sick I can’t even put words to how that feels,” Tom said.
“Just being separated from his is, well, it’s not easy,” Chad said.
A big part of Chad’s fear of exposing Tom comes from the lack of personal protective equipment being provided at the hospital.
The couple also wants Kaiser to reimburse them for the hotel room.
“It’s not fair for Chad and other nurses and doctors to put their savings on the line so that they can go to work everyday and keep the rest of us safe,” Wendy Musell said.
Wendy Musell, the Bakers’ attorney, said Kaiser has denied the reimbursement request.
Kaiser tells KRON4 News they are evaluating how to best respond to situations like this and will contact employees next week.
“We are grateful to our employees for their dedication to our members and patients even in the most difficult times. As we’ve demonstrated with other crises we have faced as a community, most recently the North Bay fires, Kaiser Permanente is committed to providing our employees with help and resources based on their individual situation. We are presently evaluating the scope of what these needs are and how to best respond, and we expect to communicate details directly to our employees in the next week. We are also establishing an employee discount program with a major hotel chain. We are also grateful for the outpouring of support our teams are receiving from the community and will be establishing a fund for those who wish to make financial contributions to assist our health care workers with their needs arising from the pandemic.“Statement from Kaiser Permanente
“They should be reimbursed for their expenses, they should be kept safe,” Musell said. “They’re doing the hardest job under really difficult circumstances. It’s time for us to do our part.”
“It’s so painful to see that we are treating our health care heroes, our heroes, especially on he front line not like the heroes they deserve to be,” Tom said.
Chad has not been at work since Tuesday, when he first developed possible COVID-19 related symptoms.
He’s hoping the results will come back negative so he can get back to work.
For now, it’s unknown how long Chad might be forced to stay separated from Tom.
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