Alum and family cautious in 'new normal'

HARRISON TOWNSHIP, Mich. - The Manczyk family has always had dinner together, even if dinner is late in the evening after long 12-hour shifts. 

For Mike and Jackie, and their two children, Megan and Eric, dinner together during the coronavirus pandemic is even more important.

“We need each other more than ever,” Jackie said. 

Mike, Jackie, and Megan are all nurses on the front lines at local hospitals, while Eric, a De La Salle Collegiate alumnus from 2018, is working as a pharmacy tech at the Shelby Township Meijer’s. He is also studying neuroscience and psychology at Wayne State University. 

When they arrive home, all shower immediately, taking precautions, conscious that the danger of infection for each of them is very real. 

Mike, Megan, and Eric call Jackie “The Enforcer” and laugh. 

“We shower, get changed, and are careful not to bring the virus into the house,” says Mike, who works at Henry Ford Macomb in Clinton Township. “I’m usually in the ICU, and now we’ve been almost exclusively dealing with COVID patients.”

Jackie, normally assigned to assist in open-heart surgeries at St. John Hospital in Detroit, has also been with COVID patients as elective surgeries have been restricted.  

“All of us are in direct contact with patients who have this virus. So far, by the grace of God, all of us are COVID free.”

Megan, with experience in the hospital’s surgical trauma unit, has also been in the COVID ICU at Detroit’s Receiving Hospital.

“Since we’re all dealing with medical issues, it’s nice to bounce things off of each other at dinner,” Mike says. “We can get things off our chest, and put things into perspective. This has been a good bonding time. It’s important to share our day.” 

The dinner time together has been particularly important for Mike and Megan who are keeping vigils at patients’ bedsides, as family visitors have been prohibited during the pandemic. 

“In normal times, their families would be there,” said Megan, a 2014 graduate of Regina High School in Warren. “Or we’d be facilitating a call with someone out of state. Now we’re the surrogate family members. And we’re holding hands as someone is dying.” 

As patients at the hospitals come off ventilators or are discharged, the public address system plays a song. 

At Receiving, it’s the Motown classic, “I’ll be there.” At St. John Hospital, Motown’s “Ain’t no mountain high enough.” And Journey’s “Don’t stop believing” is on the speakers at Henry Ford Macomb. 

“When you walk outside every day after work, it puts things in perspective,” Jackie said. “I’m grateful to be on the other side of the glass.” 

  • Alumni News