By Lenis Rodrigues, Media Relations Staff
When surgical technician Christine Slater became concerned for her father and daughter’s health after the outbreak of COVID-19, she looked for alternative housing to keep them safe while continuing to risk her own health during shifts at Saint Clare’s Hospital in Morris County, NJ.
Enter Port Authority Police Detective Chris Johnson, whose wife Heather runs a camper rental business, Rental Outfitters. Rather than rent the camper, they offered it free of charge. The detective personally delivered it to Slater, who is now residing there to protect her family from possible exposure to the virus.
“I was in such a panic for my dad and my daughter,” said Slater. “I was in constant fear for my family. When I contacted Chris, he immediately put me at ease and helped me so much. I can’t say enough about him and his wife.”
Johnson was happy to help, but it wasn’t an isolated incident. A week later, he and his wife received a call from nurse Nichole Dorn of Madison, WI. Dorn had traveled to New Jersey to help at a beleaguered hospital in Morristown and desperately needed a place to stay. Once again, the Johnsons rose to the occasion, setting her up rent-free in a camper – this one parked in the officer’s driveway.
“We are complete strangers but we wanted her to know that she had a home away from home waiting for her in New Jersey,” said Johnson, who is assigned to the police command at the Port Authority Bus Terminal.
“It was really hard to leave my family but it was the right thing to do,” Dorn said. A few days ago, she said, “I was having a bad day and when I came back to the trailer, their kids had colored pictures, thanking me for my service, and it just made my day.”
“It is so humbling seeing people come together and help each other out and they’ve definitely made me feel welcome,” she said.
Just three days ago, the couple received another call, this time from a Freehold, NJ nurse also concerned for her daughter’s safety while she was assigned to a COVID-19 unite. She contacted the Johnsons, who arranged a pick-up of the trailer and had a State Trooper deliver it to her.
“My wife and I knew that with everything going on, this might be the end of our small business but we didn’t want to let our resources go to waste,” said Johnson. “These people are going above and beyond the call. If we could help by taking away one less stress or help with their anxiety, we will.”