Working With COVID-19: A Family’s Firsthand Experience of the Virus

COVID-19 has shaken the world. Families all around are impacted by the outbreak. Whether it’s social distancing, job struggles, economic stress or loved ones’ health, COVID-19 has affected society in many ways. One Kirkwood family in particular, the Dunns, have a firsthand experience that sets them apart: Scott Dunn, an ER doctor at Mercy Hospital, works on the front lines.

Scott, husband to Courtney and father of two, works as an emergency physician at Mercy Hospital. He works with numerous COVID-19 patients and experiences the virus directly. When news about the virus began to circulate, the Dunn family said they had a mix of emotions. 

“Initially, we were all scared because we didn’t have much knowledge about the virus. It was very intimidating [for us] going back to the hospital that first shift when things were changing,” Courtney said. “[Our] first thoughts were [of] fear and trying not to panic.”

Despite the initial concerns, Scott said he developed a mantra through his experience with COVID-19: “Panic doesn’t help anyone in these times.” Instead, Scott said you have to stay level-headed and collected. A huge cause for Scott’s decline of fear was the decrease of COVID-19 patients he treated over time. 

“When COVID patients started to come in, around 97 percent of patients I saw were COVID positive,” Scott said. “From what I see right now, we are well past [the virus]. It’s trailed off. Now there may be a second bump as we open up businesses, but the medical system is ready for that. It’s not going to overwhelm us.” 

In the world of nonstop media, Scott said it’s hard to decide who to listen to. According to him, most of our information about COVID-19 is learned from the press.

“The media definitely highlighted the worst of what’s going on,” Scott said. “I don’t think I can sort through what is a political agenda versus what is real. I have firsthand knowledge of the medical aspect, yet I still struggle just as everybody else in trying to decide what is reality in the media.”

Scott acknowledged that there is a great deal of fear in many media outlets regarding COVID-19. He said that the medical system in Missouri has handled, and will continue to handle, this pandemic well.

“We’ve talked about how it’s made us stronger, and how we don’t take each day for granted.””

— Scott Dunn

“There is a lot of panic and hysteria,” Scott said. “[But for] everyone on the front line of this, there’s a lot less of that. I don’t think that we are panicked. There is a lot that’s put out in the press that’s wildly exaggerated at the very least. To be working with COVID patients every day, you get used to it, and I’m not afraid or fearful; we are just continuing to do our job.”

In terms of their family life, the Dunn family constantly looks at the positive side of things throughout this pandemic. Despite the current situation in the world, they repeatedly express their gratitude to each other. 

“We’ve talked about how it’s made us stronger, and how we don’t take each day for granted,” Courtney said. “I honestly think we’ve tried to acknowledge each other more. Be more grateful.”

In the current world amidst this pandemic, the Dunn family has noticed the way people in Kirkwood have changed their routines and ways due to COVID-19. According to them, in a short amount of time, people’s everyday actions have altered for the well-being of the community.

“People have figured it out, changed, adapted,” Courtney said. “Can you imagine that much change happening in six weeks during any other period of our lives? It wouldn’t happen. Our speed of reaction is great. I’m so impressed that when push comes to shove, people rise.”