OBERLIN, Ohio — If for some reason you haven’t listened to all the adults suggesting you stay home, maybe you’ll listen to an adorable 2-year-old who misses her dad.
Kenleigh Hartman is the daughter of MetroHealth Life Fight and emergency department nurse Scott Hartman.
Kenleigh and her younger sister Maggie make a simple yet powerful plea to the world in a social video posted by their mother, Kelly – who also misses the normal life she once shared with her husband. The purpose of the video is to open the eyes of those who don’t understand the effects the coronavirus pandemic is having on the families of healthcare workers and first responders who may not even have the disease.
“I just thought that getting the message across that way would maybe open the eyes of other people, too,” said Kelly. “Make people realize what families are doing at home and how it’s affecting the children.”
The Hartman family has been practicing social distancing even amongst family members. Due to Scott’s high-risk line of work and increased odds for exposure, they don’t want to chance spreading the virus to one another. Therefore, Scott has been unable to hug or kiss his wife and kids for weeks.
“The first thing the kids normally do is run to you, give you a hug, give you a kiss,” Scott recalled. “Tell you how much they love you -- they missed you.”
“Will you hold me?” That’s a question they often ask. During these times, Scott has to say no.
When Scott comes home from work, he takes off his clothes in the mudroom and immediately heads for the shower – his own separate shower that the ladies in the house can’t use for the time-being.
“They watch him pull in the driveway. They go running to the door. They get excited,” says Kelly of her young daughters. “Now, we have the baby gate in the kitchen so they can’t go running past that.”
Even after getting clean, Scott keeps his distance in case he’s silently carrying the virus.
Now, the Hartman’s have been forced to come up with safe ways for Scott to interact with his daughters from a distance. And he no longer sleeps in the same room with his wife, who cares for their children at home throughout the day.
The lives of healthcare workers and first responders have changed dramatically, more than most.
“I think at home it’s changed more for me in regard to protecting my family and I don’t want to bring anything home to them,” said Scott.
But make no mistake, the Hartman’s aren’t complaining or seeking pity. They’re simply sharing their story to show that we’re all in this together.
“In the end I think we all will become stronger from this. We just have to get through [these] tough times and reach the finish line,” Scott said looking toward the future.
“I look forward to getting the kids out of the house. And to go places where we can interact with people – where they can interact with their cousins.”
“This isn’t about us. This isn’t about our family,” said Kelly. “We’re doing our part. Our family is doing our part to protect ourselves and others around us.”
“I hope that everybody can start to do their part – to stay home, work together, slow this thing down and protect our healthcare workers, their families, and everybody in our community.”
And let’s be honest – across the country and around the globe -- we’re all looking forward to the time when we can snuggle up and hug our family members without having to worry about the harm it may cause.
“Warm hugs, kisses, everything,” said Scott. Those are just a some of the ways he’ll be able to express love to his family when this is all over.
“Who doesn’t want to hug their daughters when they come home. It’s the greatest feeling in the world when they see you.”
To get back to normal, we all must do our part. Kenleigh says it best in her video: wash your hands, stay home, and sanitize – so she can kiss her daddy again!
The Hartman’s are heroes for the work Scott does every day and for the sacrifices they’re making to stop the spread of coronavirus. To nominate your 3Hero, share details with 3News through Facebook, Twitter or Instagram. Make sure you use the #3Heroes hashtag when posting. You can also text the information to 216-344-3300. That's a text, not a phone call.
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