Jacob Crust comes home after working in the St. Luke’s Hospital emergency department and quarantines himself in the basement to protect his family. He showers, sleeps and spends his free time away from his wife, Ally, and two sons, ages 6 and 4. The college sweethearts, both Maryville University graduates, will celebrate their 10th wedding anniversary next year.
Quarantining himself throughout the coronavirus pandemic was not a light decision. The couple’s younger son, Franklin, has cerebral palsy; his major brain, eye and hip surgeries since birth and his pre-existing medical condition make him a higher risk for serious health complications from COVID-19.
“The hardest part is when our sons want to hug their dad,” Ally Crust says. “Since they can’t be close to him, they make signs and hang them on the basement steps. They ride scooters up and down the driveway while dad does yardwork. It allows them to be around him and talk to him from an appropriate distance.”
The triage nurse sees each patient that steps foot into the ER, which, for weeks, has been flooded with people in search of testing for coronavirus infections. Some are already experiencing respiratory illness and require additional care.
Hospital staff must ration personal protective equipment while treating patients. In response, Ally Crust asked family and friends for donations of N95 masks and, over two days, collected close to 75 masks.
The family is grateful for the community’s support. “People drop off meals and cookies at the hospital,” Ally Crust says. “Rad Nurse, an organization founded by a fellow Maryville alumna, donated a week’s worth of meals to our family. It’s the highlight of our day when these things happen.”
Fredbird and Louie headed a parade outside St. Luke’s Hospital. The pop-up “care-avan” was part of the “Rise Up for Heroes” campaign that rallied support for local heroes. St. Louis civic, sports and business leaders, including Maryville University, lead the initiative.
“It’s so meaningful that our community has come together to recognize my husband and the countless other health care professionals who lead the fight against COVID-19,” Ally Crust says.
Maryville University, 650 Maryville University Drive, St. Louis, 314-529-9300, 800-627-9855; additional locations at Lake St. Louis, Scott Air Force Base and Sunset Hills; maryville.edu
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