Facebook group lets volunteers lend RVs to health care workers who need to quarantine

Volunteers loan RVs to weary doctors, nurses
Volunteers loan RVs to weary doctors, nurses 04:06

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A North Texas woman got a helping hand when she turned to the internet in a desperate bid to help her husband, an ER doctor, find somewhere to rest without the risk of exposing his family to the coronavirus. She turned her experience into a movement called "RVs for MDs," a Facebook group which connects people in the medical profession needing to quarantine with nearby volunteers who are willing to lend theirs campers to them.

"I have a high chance of getting exposed, and I think my wife came up with the best solution," Dr. Jason Phillips told CBS News' Mireya Villarreal. "I really didn't want to stay in a hotel full time and be separated from them."

Emily Phillips said she and her husband "just were throwing things out there" when they posted online to ask if anybody in the area had an RV or a camper they could borrow, not expecting the immediate response she received.

Now, Phillips runs the "RVs for MDs" Facebook group with over 100 volunteers, including Holly Haggard — the first person to offer up her RV to the Phillips family. The group has over 22,000 online members and has made at least 345 matches so far, with hundreds more pending.

"It doesn't matter who you vote for. It doesn't matter what your religious beliefs are. None of that matters. Everybody has just come together," Haggard said.

One volunteer and family came together despite being a three-hour drive apart, when a woman named Tonya Sheets took her camper van to meet Dena Chretien.

Chretien, whose husband John is an ER physician, said her "stomach sank" when she read about the first emergency doctor to die from the coronavirus. She turned to the Facebook group and found help from a total stranger.

"We knew that he was on the front lines taking care of these patients, putting himself at risk. We had to jump in to do something," Sheets said.

Sheets said she may not know how long the arrangement would last, but it would not be over until she knows "he is safe" and that things could "go back to normal."

The group even reaches as far as Atlanta, Georgia, where ICU nurse Yhaneek Douglas-Mattis worked on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic while fearing for her husband and three young children at home.

"I called my husband, I was like, 'I don't think I can come home,'" she said. "'The babies- I think I could get them sick.'"

Her friend alerted her to the RVs for MDs group, so Douglas-Mattis was able to stay near her family at a safe distance, with a camper in their backyard. Douglas-Mattis said she was "filled with gratitude" that she could be nearby but still keep them safe.

"Whether it's kindness that connects us, or love that connects us… we will come out of this entire situation much better," she said.