ICU nurse shares how she is overcoming quarantine challenges

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Tuesday, November 24, 2020

As a single mother from Long Island, New York – considered a COVID-19 hot spot in the height of the pandemic – and an essential worker after 14 years in the healthcare field, Kimberly Hurt has had her share of struggles in 2020. But there is one challenge that went unattended to for quite a while: a home in disarray due to months of long work shifts, on top of caring for her seven-year-old son, Ethan, and studying to get her bachelor’s degree in nursing.

The place that was once her haven and respite from long days at the hospital became “disorganized,  chaotic and lonely,” said the 41-year-old, whose job as a nurse in the intensive care unit at a hospital has been an epicenter of the COVID-19 crisis. Kimberly’s unit at the hospital was originally for treating recovering open-heart patients and was then turned into a COVID-19 intensive care unit, where she saw many community members lose their loved ones. “We had the most COVID-19 patients in all of Long Island at our hospital. It was traumatic, heart-wrenching and isolating, and we worked so hard to keep people alive,” shared Kimberly.

Kimberly and Ethan reunited after eight weeks of separation
due to COVID-19 safety precautions.

Kimberly and Ethan enjoying a day outside
together pre-pandemic.

While life at the hospital became increasingly challenging, coming home to a chaotic house started to add to the stress of raising her son during a pandemic, with new at-home schooling measures in place. In an effort to keep Ethan safe, Kimberly relied on her parents to care for her son and shared that her parents took in Ethan for close to eight weeks to avoid spreading any germs. “It was a very rough time.”

The overwhelming loneliness and sadness working through these tough times was apparent. Being away from her family, on top of working in such a high-risk hospital and the trauma she saw during the height of the pandemic, caused Kimberly to experience post-traumatic stress disorder. “I was either surrounded by sadness at work or at home alone, and it was very hard,” said Kimberly.

Following careful consideration and precautions taken, Kimberly finally reunited with her family in May, after thoroughly disinfecting her home and feeling more at ease when it became common practice for the community to wear masks in public places.

With Ethan back at Kimberly’s, her home needed to act as both his school and her sanctuary to relieve stress from work. Their dining room had quickly become overrun with schoolbooks – both Ethan’s and Kimberly’s. With her home needing to function in newer ways, and items piling up, the house was becoming disheveled and was unable to serve as the comfort zone she needed to boost her spirits after long shifts at the hospital.

Kimberly needed help making her house feel like a home again. PayPal and Queer Eye’s design expert, Bobby Berk, teamed up to give her the home upgrade she truly deserves.

The surprise included Kimberly’s dream items to help make her home feel cozy and functional, including a new media center, chairs for the living room, a desk, and a Lenovo laptop for Ethan. The desk and laptop are especially important as Ethan continues schooling from home and have created a working environment for him to be able to learn and grow.

To make your home feel more comfortable for work or school, Bobby recommends keeping things not only stylish but functional. Skip the office chair and opt for an accent chair, invest in a portable mini projector and popup screen to project your kids’ lessons onto the walls, or pick up a set of noise-cancelling headphones when you need to focus if housemates or family members are around. 

Casey and Justin Wisch
Bobby Berk surprising Kimberly and her son Ethan with their new home décor!

Upgrading your living space is always a costly expense, and during these challenging times we’re all looking for even more ways to budget. All of the items in Kimberly’s upgraded space can be purchased with PayPal’s new Pay in 4* solution, a new way to buy now and pay later and split purchases into four payments. Flexible payment options like this can help make upgrading a house during quarantine more manageable, especially during the holidays.

Although life in the pandemic remains uncertain, it’s clear we’ll continue to spend more time at home. Bobby recommends creating storage space under beds and behind doors, slim shelving units, double duty furniture, and good lighting to make better use of a space.

“We are already making the most of our upgraded space.” Kimberly said. “These days I can’t wait to come home after work to relax and help Ethan with his homework – although he’d probably rather be playing video games!”


*Pay in 4 is available upon approval on purchases from $30 - $600. Late fee amount and eligibility for Pay in 4 vary by state. Loans to California residents are made or arranged pursuant to a California Finance Lenders Law License. Learn more about Pay in 4 here.

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