When their daughter Hayley said she was going to pursue nursing after earning her undergraduate degree in industrial psychology, it was a surprise to Suzie and Bob Pschirrer of Naperville.
But five years later, as the novel coronavirus grew from epidemic to pandemic, the Pschirrers were not surprised that Hayley was in the thick of it, treating COVID-19 patients.
They said their daughter “likes to be challenged” — she began her nursing career in a Level I trauma unit, meeting helicopters bringing in patients who had been in accidents.
Suzie said she feels a mixture of respect and trepidation when she thinks of Hayley’s role in the pandemic.
“The nurses can’t touch the patient’s skin unless they are gowned and masked and draped,” Suzie said.
She worries for Hayley’s safety but said she is proud her daughter “wants to go where she’s needed.” She wonders if the experience is similar for parents whose children enlist in the military.
Although Hayley is young and strong, Suzie said she worries about the psychological impact of treating COVID-19 patients.
Hayley sees patients die alone — day after day. Families aren’t allowed into the hospitals to visit, Suzie said, and Hayley has helped several patients call their families to say final goodbyes.
So with their child on the front lines, the Pschierrers decided to cook. They didn’t want their daughter “coming home from a 12-hour day of caring for patients on ventilators and worrying about preparing meals or going to the grocery store.”
For the Pschierrers, food is an ultimate comfort and cooking is an act they can do for Hayley during these uncertain times. So every week they cook a week's worth of family favorites: spaghetti pie, chili, caesar salad, meatloaf.
And every Friday, Suzie and Bob deliver the meals.
“It’s the one way we get to see her,” Bob said.
Suzie admits that it is hard to remember she can’t hug Hayley when she’s there dropping off food.
“Now more than ever, she probably needs a hug," she said. "She needs to be reminded from her mom and dad that it’s all going to be okay.”
Lynnea Domienik is an intern for Curious City. Joe DeCeault is a senior producer for WBEZ. You can follow him on Twitter at @joedeceault.