Registered nurse Kathleen McCormack, like so many other Long Island health care workers and first responders, feared she'd bring the coronavirus to her family — especially her mother Ruthanne McCormack, who has battled pneumonia for more than a month.
Those fears were eased this week thanks to a pair of total strangers — Nassau police Officer Michael Walker and his wife, AnnMarie, a nurse at Long Island Jewish Medical Center. The couple parked their camper Tuesday in the driveway of Kathleen McCormack’s Rockville Centre home and told her she could live there, rent free, for as long as necessary.
“I was in constant stress being around my parents and not knowing what I was bringing home,” said McCormick, 28, a nurse at St. Francis Hospital in Roslyn. “It was such a blessing to find them. It was such a kind gesture.”
McCormack's father, Joe McCormack, and her mother, are both 58, not senior citizens but close enough to that vulnerable age group to raise concerns. They were both in good health until Ruthanne McCormack fell ill in recent weeks, although she has tested negative for the coronavirus.
Michael Walker, a police officer for 26 years who has worked with the Nassau department for the past 12, said the decision to loan out the camper was a no-brainer.
“If we can help someone, we’ll help them,” he said. “Everybody who knows us knows that.”
AnnMarie Walker, a cardiology nurse at Long Island Jewish who worked with coronavirus patients in recent weeks, said the camper was just sitting in their driveway anyway.
“It wasn’t doing anything and we could put it to good use," she said. "It is our way of giving something to help her.”
After looking into staying at a hotel, Kathleen McCormack said, her mother suggested renting a camper or mobile home they could park in the driveway.
Ruthanne McCormack said she was scouring the Facebook marketplace when she came across a camper-for-sale ad posted by the Walkers. On Tuesday morning, she called Walker, who said he had posted the ad because he hoped to buy a bigger camper. She asked Walker if he would rent it to them.
“I said to my wife, ‘this woman wants to rent the camper,’ ” said Walker, an Army veteran who served in Operation Desert Storm. “And my wife said, ‘no, were are not going to rent it to them. We are going to let them use it for free.' "
The couple cleaned and sanitized the camper before hauling it to the McCormacks' driveway Tuesday. Once there, they hooked up the water, propane and electricity. Kathleen McCormack moved in that afternoon.
McCormack said she quickly adapted to life in the camper, which she said is cozy and comfortable.
Her mother said she is happy to have her daughter close, even if they have to keep their distance. She's also grateful to the strangers who have helped her daughter and the rest of the family amid the pandemic that has left about 1,000 dead on Long Island.
“We are going to be friends for life,” she said, “I can tell you that.”