When Dr. Ashley Olson’s mother-in-law sent her a link to a Facebook page called RVs 4 MDs, Olson didn’t know what to think. Did she really need an RV to quarantine in?
Olson, a third-year chief resident in emergency medicine at Truman Medical Centers, has seen her share of COVID-19 cases lately.
She and her husband live in Parkville. They'd already come up with a routine for what she should do immediately after coming home from her shifts. She felt good about it.
But then she thought about her nine-month-old daughter, Aurora, who had a history of being hospitalized for respiratory problems. In early April, she decided to submit her name to the Facebook group for consideration.
Within hours, she'd received a call from Melissa and Michael Nightingale in Paola, Kansas.
They both had reservations about lending their beloved RV to a complete stranger in Missouri, but Melissa Nightingale says she had a gut feeling after talking with Olson.
“She told me the situation with her daughter and what she was fearful of,” Nightingale says. “I really felt like this was the right thing to do. It was just sitting in our yard anyway. What purpose is it doing sitting there when it could be saving someone’s life?”
The Nightingales brought Olson the RV later that day.
Since then, it’s been sitting near Olson’s house, allowing her to see her family without worrying so much about contamination.
Olson says having the RV has made her life a lot easier when she gets home at 2 a.m.
“To be able to come home and go into that RV and know that my family won't be exposed to any of that,” she says, “it's a huge weight off my shoulders.”
Olson says the Nightingales even drove back with propane and a generator a week later, and they’ve asked for nothing in return.
“It just means so much to me during this horrible time for all of us that people are still thinking about each other and willing to do as much for our fellow human beings as they can,” she says. “These people are my heroes. Really. Truly.”
RVs 4 MDs started in a small town in Texas in late March when the wife of an ER physician was urgently looking into temporary housing and found it in the form of an RV. Since blowing up, the group has matched close to 1,400 donors and recipients from across the country.
Melissa Nightingale says lending her RV to an ER physician has given her back some control.
“It makes me feel proactive, instead of feeling so helpless,” Nightingale says. “We kind of just had to put our hesitations aside for the bigger picture. If this helps one emergency doctor, it’s a ripple effect.”