David Hunt, who works as support staff for a hospital in Madison, describes his work and home life since mid-March as confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Dane County rose and as the Safer at Home order went into place.
[00:00:43] Describe what the past couple of weeks have looked like for you
[00:03:05] How are you handling your childcare situation
[00:04:50] How is your little girl doing?
[00:05:38] What is it like being at a hospital right now?
[00:07:41] Are there specific areas that are only for COVID patients?
[00:08:25] Impressions of how the public is handling this?
[00:09:39] Particular moments or stories that stand out?
[00:11:42] What does your neighborhood look like at this time
[00:12:37] What worries do you have at this time
[00:14:02] Reintegration and what that will look like
[00:14:54] What opportunities to you see at this time
[START OF RECORDING]
Interviewer: All right. This is Laura Damon-Moore. Today is Tuesday, March 31st, 2020. I am here with the Living History Project. I'm going to have our narrator introduce himself in just a moment. And narrator, would you tell us your first and last name and who you are, please?
David Hunt: Hi. My name is David Hunt. I'm a security monitor for Central Library in downtown Madison. And I also work in support services for a large hospital in the area.
Interviewer: Thank you so much, David. And thank you so much for taking the time to be with us today. David, could you describe what the past couple of weeks have looked like for you in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic and the safer-at-home directive?
David Hunt: Sure. I guess I would first describe -- my working situation is a lot of shuffle and just, changes. At the large hospital I work for I've been redeployed, I’ve had to report to assignments where there has been COVID testing. And with the library, trying to just be situated at home to do some other support services from my own computer in my own living room or whatever I can make as a makeshift office because I don't have a lot of space or anything set up for that. And as you can imagine being on the front lines at the city with the whole COVID-19, just, experience, I would say that it affects me personally at home because my girlfriend is also a medical professional. She is a medical professional and I do support services and -- but she also works for another large hospital in the area. And it's a lot of stress relating to, you know—if one of us gets sick, childcare. Our job situation was already pretty stressful so, yeah. It has been a lot of changes in a short amount of time.
Interviewer: Thank you so much. So how are you handling your childcare situation. What does that look like for you?
David Hunt: Okay. So I’ve had a very stressful situation even before all this started because my girlfriend worked two days in Madison and three days in Janesville. And I'm working two jobs so the idea was that I would pick up our child in day care in-between the two jobs. Mine work back-to-back.
Thankfully the daycare that my little five month old goes to, she's still accepted there and they're still operating. It's very minimal though luckily we, with the medical— We have priority so we don't have to worry as long they stay open and they have some other things set up with both of our hospitals, like my girlfriend's place of employment. I would say that the good thing with all the changes has been working from home with the library so that I can spend a little more time with my daughter. So I can pick her up from daycare and continue to do things at home. Or sometimes, you know, when I don't have to report to the hospital, I'm able to spend more time with her at the house.
Interviewer: Nice. Thank you so much. How is your little girl doing?
David Hunt: She's fine. She’s growing. We worry about her health. You know, we don't want either of us to pick up anything in the medical environment and spread it [to] her but right now, you know, things have been good. I think she just sees it as another day, just more time with daddy and that helps because I am getting things done around the house and also do some with her, what they call Telenet interaction with patients from homes.
Interviewer: Got you.
Yeah. Got you. Thanks. So, David, what is it like—can you tell us about being at a hospital right now, in this moment? What is the mood like there? What are your feelings about how things are being approached there? Does it feel really different from the way it did before?
David Hunt: Well, I definitely feel like there is a general mood change with all visitors and patients that come through the hospital. That's for sure. I would say as far as the staff in general, there isn't a lot of changes for a lot of people. And, you know, I can kind of compare what I hear on the news. I feel like Madison—the health organizations here in Madison do a great job at trying to get ahead. It's just that at the very top levels, you know, you hear about CDC and all the politicized things that are going on in the news about what to do—testing, all that, that is affecting, excuse me, that is affecting, obviously the hospitals [as] they have to allow the changes.
So I'm sure everyone is a little bit more, I wouldn’t say on edge— You know, as medical professionals, [navigating] all these changes and some of those changes affect you personally. Or if you work in support services, like myself, you definitely feel like—okay. Am I okay? So there is always this sense of, kind of like worry and dread in the background. But, you know, we just do what we can. And hopefully because Madison had a smaller population than some of the other large cities, that we're ahead of the curve and not behind it.
Interviewer: At the hospital where you work and where your partner works, are there specific areas that have been designated COVID-19 wards or physical spaces at the moment?
David Hunt: For sure. For sure. Yeah. Definitely. Like I said, the hospitals in Madison are doing a great job of trying to get ahead of whatever is going to eventually [inaudible] come through the doors or, you know, however the sickness afflicts people here or the virus afflicts people here.
Interviewer: Got you. What is your impression of how the public is handling this, like especially in a hospital environment or a hospital setting? Do people seem really nervous?
David Hunt: Well, you know, that perception will change because just like the public's information has changed. I would say at first it was definitely a sense of fear and a lot of that was based on ignorance. So, you know, things like people taking too many masks, not understanding what the mask was for. Things of that nature. Now it's more like—I think a lot of people try to avoid the hospitals in this area, which seems to be a good strategy, I would say, because you don't know. That's where people are coming who have tested positive for [COVID] or are showing signs. This is where they show up. So if you don't have to be there, I think before getting that message, you know, just don't go there so—
Interviewer: Got you. Yeah. That makes a lot of sense. In terms of your work either at the library or at the hospital, however you want to answer, are there particular stories or moments from this time period that have really stood out to you?
David Hunt: Sure. Off the top of my head, well, something that's very interesting to me, that me my girlfriend as we, kind of like, deal with our personal life and we're very obviously invested in information about what's happening, you know, locally. What's happening nationally with this outbreak, the virus, is that we've just been having this kind of thing where we're trying to stay away from spending too much time with the television and really going outside to get away from it all because, you know, we definitely feel like we're getting want and after seeing so many changes firsthand. We definitely feel like we should stay abreast on, you know, all the information that's out there but in the background from political statements to just the news capturing what’s constantly going on. And things are online so we just try to shut it all off and avoid our house becoming just this like paranoia zone. Step outside and get away, get away from that and that is something that has been really big in our own heads here recently.
Interviewer: Just to kind of segue from that, when you are able to get out and about, what does your neighborhood look like at this time? Is it busier than usual? Is it quieter? Yeah. Are there favorite places that you like to go in your neighborhood right now to kind of find that grounding space?
David Hunt: Yes. So definitely we walk trails. We're lucky where we live here in Fitchburg there are trails. And they seem to be well used right now, just a lot of people out on bikes, and trying to do the same thing, just out walking. We try to walk our baby when we can, get outside. So, yeah, so there's definitely a very large presence of people just being out of the house and people just on the trails.
Interviewer: So you kind of touched on this already but are there -- like what worries do you have at this moment, knowing what you know and looking just slightly ahead? Like what are you concerned about right now?
David Hunt: That's a really good question. I would think—there are two worries. It's obviously the worry of how bad can things really get? That's I think on everyone’s mind. And that I have this other worry about, like I may be way ahead of the curve but this, but just like reintegration when things get better. Like, what is that going to look like? Like how is everything going to go back to normal? If we stay out for, you know, like another month or two, just going out because things have changed so drastically? You know, from being away from the routines for so long? I actually kid when we're out and see everyone walking outside, it's like a lot of people are going like, yeah. I want to come back to my office. I kind of want to stay doing the [Safer at Home].
David Hunt: Just being out and like working from home so I kind of see that going.
Interviewer: Yeah. It will be interesting to, yeah, reintegration is a good way to put it. It's, yeah, it will be interesting to see how all of that goes.
David Hunt: Yeah. And with my jobs too. Like obviously the hospital, the hospital has done a whole lot of changes to, you know, to accommodate everyone with a sickness and the virus and the people who are afflicted by it. So, you know, that'll be very interesting to see what types of changes stay permanent until we find some really good solutions because of this. So there is a lot of things going into the future—I’m thinking if this does, you know, keep us out like a month or two then things will be very different, going back.
Interviewer: For sure. Yeah. Thank you. And, you know, on the flip side of that question, what opportunities do you see at this point?
David Hunt: Opportunities as far as—
Interviewer: Like maybe opportunities for growth or like good things or positive things that are either happening or could happen as a result of this experience.
David Hunt: Sure. I definitely feel there is this very touching aspect to what's happened even to me personally. Like I said, I spend more time with my daughter just at home here. And I try not to take that time for granted. You know, it's like I said, we are on the front lines. You never know what could happen. There are reports of people who get sick and they become isolated and can't see their families for the duration of their sickness. And then knowing that the hospitals, from working at hospitals I know firsthand that, obviously visitation is limited at this time. So I think there's a lot of heartwarming stories, all types in the news as well. Taking the personal time with my daughter and not taking it for granted. So I feel like -- for a lot of people there is just going to be opportunities coming out of it to look back and just think about, okay, well, what did I do and how did I appreciate the time that I was given? So I'm hoping that kind of resonates too as we get past this, you know, [inaudible] coming together in the spirit of just being supportive and helpful and appreciative.
Interviewer: Sure. Thank you so much. Is there anything that we have not talked about that you want to make sure to mention today?
David Hunt: Just make sure that everyone stays safe. And like I said, I hope just, you know, we come out of this on top and we learn to come together [inaudible].
Interviewer: Thank you so much, David.
David Hunt: Thank you.
[END OF RECORDING]