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Minnesota health care workers quarantine in camper away from family

The Kvetons have already made it through two severe thunderstorms and now temperatures near single digits in just over a week. They are hopeful for a warm-up so they can burn less fuel to keep their home-away-from-home comfortable.

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George and Magaen Kveton stand outside their camper outside of Wadena where they've been quarantining themselves from their family for their family's health and safety. Submitted photo
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WADENA, Minn. — Magaen and George Kveton started the camping season early this year — without their four kids.

While days in the family fifth-wheel camper used to have a sense of relaxation and escape, the portable shelter has been serving as a place for the husband and wife front-line workers to quarantine away from their family without leaving their property in rural Wadena.

In a time where they could be in contact with COVID-19 at any time, the two came to the decision recently to separate themselves from their family and other people with the help of Magaen’s mom, Gail Moore.

When Magaen recently found out that she may have been in contact with a positive coronavirus case, without proper personal protective equipment, she was told to go on quarantine for 14 days by her employer. When she began having some symptoms, she and her husband also had tests taken. Thankfully, both tests came back negative. George was able to return to work as a paramedic at Tri-County Health Care. Magaen, however, remains on quarantine through April 19 as she said the virus can lay dormant.

“So it is for the safety of others,” she said.

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It means Magaen does not go out in public. She and George maintain 6 feet distancing from their children. They have been spending a lot more time together playing cards and cooking meals for two. George now comes and goes for work and groceries. Magaen’s main reason for leaving the confines of the camper is to use a bathroom in the house or step out to have a conversation with the kids — at a distance. But those practices involve health precautions and heavy cleaning. That sheltering has not been easy for the couple.

“We’re just go-go-go kinda people,” Magaen said.

Magaen works full time at Essentia Health in Fargo and casually at Tri-County Health Care in Wadena as a medical/surgical registered nurse. She can soon return to work, but she and George plan to maintain separation from their family as some family members, including Magaen’s mom, have underlying health conditions that put them at risk.

Even before COVID-19 hit the states, the couple would typically remove their work clothes before entering the home as a way to avoid bringing anything home with them. Removing themselves from the home has been difficult as the couple misses the physical touch of their children and the closeness of regular activities. Magaen expressed how difficult it was explaining to their kids that they would not be hugging during the quarantine, especially for the youngest daughter Alayna. What would have been unimaginable weeks ago is now making sense.

“We just know better,” Magaen said. “We need to stay away. One of the biggest fears is actually getting it and spreading.”

What else has made the transition possible for the couple is a caring group of people that have reached out to get the couple anything they need in order to stay away from others. That includes their immediate family, neighbors and their church family, Magaen said.

“We have that support if we do need something,” Magaen said.

Moore said that she was brought in initially to help her stay healthy. She was living at Humphrey Manor in Wadena and said being confined to her apartment was very depressing for her.

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“I didn’t have anybody there with me,” Moore said. “I was there alone.”

Now that Magaen and George are at high risk of contracting the virus she said she was happy to step into the role of full-time grandma and teacher so that the parents can keep their distance. She tries not to think about the fact that the two have jobs that put them at high risk as the thought can often summon tears. She instead thinks about the good work they do that she knows they are proud of doing.

“I'm just glad I can be a service to them so they can be a service to others,” Moore said.

Moore realizes she’ll probably be with the kids for a while as the expected peak of illnesses seems to be a ways out. The virus precautions have put a stop to her daily gatherings with her friends. She said she is, however, enjoying spending time with the grand kids, playing games, watching movies and helping with school work as she is able. Moore said the two older children stay quite busy on their Chromebooks for most of the day. They are also willing to help their younger siblings if they have any technological hangups.

With the couple getting the help they need to handle this life transition, they still rely on faith to help hold things together.

“Our faith in God is always strong and holding,” Magaen said. “No matter what, God is always there to take care of us.”

The Kvetons have already made it through two severe thunderstorms and now temperatures near single digits in just over a week. They are hopeful for a warm-up so they can burn less fuel to keep their home-away-from-home comfortable. While they are enjoying all 28 feet of their camper for now, they hope to take it down the road with the whole family — the sooner the better.

He's a writer, editor, photographer, truth seeker and promoter of the Wadena area.
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