COVID-19 - February 26, 2021
by Amber McCracken
They say the third time is the charm. When Goodwin House came calling for the third time with an available apartment to offer, Ron and Jane Karpick decided this was the one. The first two options they had been offered had been just a bit too small, but this third apartment in the Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads campus seemed like the perfect fit. They did see a few renovations they wanted to make – take out a wall in the kitchen, add some electrical outlets to the closet, etc. Working with their Goodwin House move-in coordinator, they estimated those renovations shouldn’t take more than a few months.
It was January of 2020, and a bright new year was ahead of them. What could possibly go wrong?
Not much, actually!
Despite COVID-19 completely changing the landscape of the globe by the spring of 2020, the Karpicks decided to forge ahead. About the time that others were being told to hunker down in their homes and steer clear of people, the Karpicks decided to leave their single family home in the lovely Lake Barcroft neighborhood in Fairfax County, Virginia, for an apartment home in a building full of new neighbors.
“We had looked at other communities and knew Goodwin House was where we wanted to be,” said Jane.” We had also volunteered at Goodwin House as part of the pastoral ministry and knew the extraordinary safety measures that were being taken to ensure the safety of the residents. When the right apartment became available, it just felt like the right time. And to be honest, I think we all assumed this pandemic would run its course in a few months.”
Before his retirement, Ron was a pulmonologist and critical care specialist taking care of individuals at area hospitals in Northern Virginia, primarily Alexandria Hospital. He grew up in Williamsville, NY, attended the University of Rochester, and then went to the Yale School of Medicine, graduating in 1965. He did his Medical Internship, Residency and Pulmonary Fellowship at Duke University. At the end of his fellowship, during the Vietnam War, the Navy came calling, promising Ron a fantastic medical appointment in sunny San Diego, CA. When he received his papers, he was surprised to find that he had been stationed in not-so-sunny Queens, NY at the St. Albans Naval Hospital.
But the one bright spot in Queens was Jane, a native North Carolinian who had gone to nursing school at the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and had also been told by the Navy recruitment officer that she’d be stationed in San Diego. Both Jane and Ron fell for the same recruiter promise, only to fall for each other.
They married in 1971 and eventually moved to the Washington, D.C. area for Ron to work at George Washington University Medical Center. Subsequently, he went into private practice, working with many area hospitals in their intensive care units. Jane earned her master’s degree in nursing education while also raising their son and daughter. She worked in hospice settings for much of her career.
Each of them watched the unfolding of the pandemic with overwhelming compassion for the families having to go through this devastating sickness. Prior to the Karpicks’ move into Goodwin House, Ron was actually called by his former medical colleagues to ask if he would be “on ready” to come back if and when the hospitals in the area became overwhelmed.
“My wife and I had a long conversation about it, knowing that I would be putting myself at risk,” said Ron. “She wasn’t too happy about it, but knew that I felt compelled to help if I was needed. Luckily, I was never called in.”
While each have extensive medical experiences, neither have ever seen anything like this pandemic. Nonetheless, Ron feels optimistic.
“It’s staggering how quickly they are learning about this virus and the rate at which they’ve been able to develop the vaccines,” said Ron. “It’s medical science at its best. Both Jane and I have now had our second dose of the vaccine and feel so incredibly lucky. I’m still on our Lake Barcroft email list serv and read how chaotic it is for people to get vaccinated. I’m so impressed with how Goodwin House has handled the vaccine rollout.”
(Read more about the efforts Goodwin House Incorporated has taken to keep residents, Goodwin House at Home members and staff safe during the pandemic.)
Ron and Jane finally made the move to Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads in August of 2020. It was hard leaving their home of nearly 50 years, but they were pleased with how their renovations turned out. Moving during a pandemic wasn’t as difficult as they might have expected. The housing market is fierce, and their Lake Barcroft home sold before it even went on the market.
Once at Goodwin House Bailey’s Crossroads, they quarantined in their apartment for two weeks, but immediately began to recognize the benefits of living in the community.
“Our meals were delivered to our apartment, and we started learning about all the different groups we could join over Zoom,” said Jane. “We are especially enjoying the virtual wine tastings!”
Ron has been enjoying the library, the woodworking shop, the art center and the gym.
“We are really looking forward to the day that we can walk down the hallways and recognize friends without their masks,” said Ron. “I know both Goodwin House campuses will eventually return to more standard operations, and all the social opportunities will be plentiful, but it will be done in due time when it is safe. Until then, we will just continue to meet our new neighbors over Zoom and enjoy all the amenities that are available to us.”
Like everyone, Ron and Jane are looking forward to the days of the COVID-19 pandemic being far behind us. They have especially missed the ability to travel, one of their favorite pastimes. They have traveled all over the world, including Africa and Australia. But when asked that they are most looking forward to when the pandemic is over, the answer was not surprising: “Getting a big hug from our 10-year-old grandson!”
Amber McCracken is the executive director of Current Communications, a boutique consultancy that helps organizations with their marketing and public relations activities. Amber has worked with GHI since 2014, providing her expert advice to support Goodwin House at Home. She contributes regularly to The Good Life, both as a writer and editor. Amber lives in North Carolina with her husband and two children.