For Dr. Paula Requeijo, the coronavirus pandemic is both a personal and a professional concern. She is chief medical officer for Elite Patient Care, a company that provides long-term health care, mostly for elderly patients. Also, her sister lives in Lake Como, Italy, one of the areas hardest hit by COVID-19.
Requeijo’s husband, Aaron Rochlen is a psychology professor at the University of Texas at Austin, and is also a licensed psychologist. The couple has two young children, and they aren’t getting much rest right now.
“We’ve been working 18 hours a day,” she says. “We don’t sleep, we don’t have weekends. It’s crazy.”
Requeijo and Rochlen recently solicited donations of personal protection equipment on social media so they can give it to medical workers to protect them from COVID-19. Rochlen says they got a big response – but he’s disappointed that they’ve had to go to such lengths to get those supplies.
“Thinking that it’s come to that,” he says, “that we have kids on street corners sewing together masks. … We are underprepared for this, and we’re in a real health crisis.”
Requeijo says she and her family have found time for self-care, including “having time to connect and laugh,” she says. “Because if not, you can’t get up the next day and do it over again.”
For Requeijo’s sister in Italy, the danger of COVID-19 feels all too real: the ringing of church bells announces each new death from the virus.
“She listens to this bell 700 times a day,” Requeijo says.
Rochlen says his wife has the greater burden to carry right now. So he says his primary job is to help his children stay engaged with the world as much as possible during the crisis.
Written by Shelly Brisbin.