ICU nurse Barbie Allen lives in an RV to protect her family from coronavirus

Barbie Allen London ICU Nurse in RV to self isolate at home
Barbie Allen London ICU Nurse in RV to self isolate at home. Supplied by Barbie Allen

With summer approaching, most people think of renting RVs for a weekend camping trip, but as the COVID-19 pandemic continues, some health-care workers are moving into the mobile homes to protect their families.

The family-run Can-Am RV Centre in London, Ont., is offering its homes on wheels free of charge to those on the front lines.

“We just never know what we are going to go into day to day and hour to hour,” Barbie Allen, an intensive care nurse, told Global News.

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Allen has 32 years of experience as a nurse and, like many front-line workers, was feeling stressed about possibly bringing the virus that causes COVID-19 home to her family.

“I was staying away from them and in tears, not sleeping at all,” she said.

Allen’s son has asthma and has had to use a ventilator in the past, which Allen said puts him at higher risk during the pandemic.

READ MORE: ‘They’re scared’ — How COVID-19 is impacting the mental health of doctors, nurses

Ontario’s associate chief medical officer of health Dr. Barbara Yaffe reported on Tuesday that 857 health-care workers in the province have now tested positive for COVID-19.

Barbie Allen
Barbie Allen, a London ICU nurse, is using an RV to isolate herself from her family while at home. Supplied by Barbie Allen

Having worked as a nurse in Toronto’s Sunnybrook Hospital during the SARS outbreak, Allen said the pandemic is unlike anything she has experienced before.

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“We are all getting through the shifts on the verge of crying a lot but we get through it,” she said.

After the stress started to become too much, one of Allen’s friends suggested she reach out to Can-Am RV Centre to look into renting an RV.

Allen explains that after telling Kirk Thomson from Can-Am RV Centre about her situation, he immediately offered to help.

“When Barbie called, it was just like this light went off, and she started crying and I started crying,” Thomson said.

Staff at Can-Am RV Centre in London, Ont. 2016. Supplied bu Can-Am RV Centre

Thomson offered Allen the RV free of charge, saying he “did not think it was right” to take money from people who are doing so much for the community.

Since getting the RV, Allen said it’s been a huge relief being able to see her family from a safe distance.

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“I’m sleeping a lot better now,” she said.

Thomson tells Global News that his business’ initiative has since “exploded,” with 14 homes already delivered to people’s houses and six more set to go out this week.

“We have a police officer that needed to quarantine from his family. We had a paramedic, one truck driver who needed to travel back and forth to the United States,” Thomson said.

Right now, it takes the team at Can-Am RV three to eight hours to get the RVs ready for delivery, and Thomson said his team is working with reduced staff to try to maintain proper physical distancing.

“It’s so nice to be able to do something because you don’t realize how torn these front-line workers are, risking not only their own lives but the lives of their families,” he said.

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