Life at UpKeep

UpKeep Family Members on the Frontlines Against COVID-19: Jay Zandstra

Ryan Chan

As the coronavirus spreads, a growing number of people have found themselves face-to-face with the possibility of contamination just by going to work, including our customers and even family members of the UpKeep team.

We spoke to one of our very own who has multiple family members fighting the spread of the virus on the frontlines.

Can you introduce yourself and what you do at UpKeep? 

Sure can! I’m Jay Zandstra, the Sales Enablement Manager at UpKeep. To summarize what I do – I work with the sales team to enhance their sales skills, remove blockers from their process, and develop whatever tools for the team to help hit their goals.

Who are the people in your life working on the frontlines? Can you introduce them?

Krystal, Jay’s wife

Absolutely! I’ll start with my wife, Krystal. She recently started a new nursing role at Cedars Sinai in the Cardiac Transplant ICU. Luckily, this floor is one of the few at Sinai that isn’t taking COVID patients. However, her last position had her working on a general ICU floor, where she worked often with the really sick COVID patients. At the general ICU floor, she actually got to be a nurse for one of the first patients at that hospital that recovered from COVID after being placed on a ventilator. If you watch this clip and go to 12:00, you’ll briefly see her dancing in front of that patient’s room after he got the news!

From left to right: Krystal, Julia, Janette

Next is my older sister Janette. She’s a mother of three and works part time at Northwestern in Chicago in the Neuro ICU. So, she mainly helps patients recovering from head injuries or strokes. She is also extremely fortunate to not have COVID patients on her floor. She’s definitely the big sister type because a lot of what she sees stems from accidents, so she is always quick to remind me and others about wearing seat belts or helmets.

My younger sister, Julia, is also a nurse at Northwestern Hospital. She works in the NICU with premature newborns. She loves it! She brought home a diaper they use for these newborns, and it is simply incredible how they are able to care and save babies born so early. COVID impacts her floor, not so much with the newborns, but with the parents of newborns if they test positive. Every parent is tested upon admission, and if the mother tests positive, she can’t hold her newborn for two weeks.

Michelle, Jay’s sister-in-law

Lastly, but certainly not least, is my sister-in-law Michelle. She works on the general ICU floor, where they are in the thick of it with COVID patients. She has seen the most regarding the COVID pandemic. She told us about a patient she had during the peak of the crisis when they weren’t allowing any visitors to see COVID patients. He wasn’t doing well and wasn’t expected to survive. So, Michelle facetime’d his wife so that she could “see” him and say goodbye. 

How has COVID-19 been affecting you and your family? 

It’s affecting us the same as everybody. It’s difficult not being able to see your family and friends. With Krystal and Michelle, they have to be extra cautious when being around family because they work so closely with COVID patients. For example, with Krystal and me living with her parents, we have to be extra cautious about washing hands and not sharing anything that would spread it. This adds to the stress because Krystal’s mom normally spends a lot of time with Krystal’s grandparents, who are at a higher risk of getting really sick.

What are some measures you and your wife are taking in the household to protect your family from the spread of COVID-19?

Soap, soap, hand sanitizer, soap, hand sanitizer, hand sanitizer, soap, more soap, hand sanitizer, wash hands, wash hands, hand sanitizer, wash hands. In that order.  We are keeping our distance everywhere. If we do anything outside, it’s a mask and new gloves every time. The closest her and I get to other people is at the dinner table with her parents, and that’s always after lots of hand washing.

To share some positivity and hope, what’s some good news you have been hearing from those working in the frontlines?

This isolation and self quarantine is working. These measures are having an effect on the spread of this virus, and it’s being realized in hospitals right now. We are also getting better at treating the virus, since treatments are constantly evolving to best handle this virus and heal patients.

Lastly, what is one thing you want people to know about frontline workers, maybe specifically those working in healthcare?

The human element of their role is the hardest. Nurses are incredible at putting their emotions on the backburner to focus on the task at hand with their patients. They are empathetic and provide compassionate care, but it’s the same compassion that drives them to fight like hell and do whatever they can to get patients back to health, no matter what the outcome may be.

One of the hardest and most frustrating realities that my wife and sisters are facing as nurses is seeing the amount of people who still are not taking this seriously. Social distancing, self-quarantine, handwashing, all of these measures are being promoted for a reason. COVID patients have no normal human interaction from the moment they step inside the hospital, until they are officially declared negative, or until they sadly take their last breath. I hope that more people can understand the weight of this reality, and choose to make wiser and more thoughtful decisions, not just for their own sake, but for their families, and my family too. 

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