Social Distancing Sacrifice: Texas ER Doc Lives In Treehouse To Keep Family Safe

An emergency room doctor at an area hospital in Corpus Christi, Texas, has decided to live in a treehouse in his backyard to limit the transmission risk of COVID-19 to his family.

Jason Barnes, 39, works in the emergency room at CHRISTUS Spohn Health System in Corpus Christi, has treated COVID-19 patients over the last month. He decided to live in the family's treehouse after he wanted to be near his family but removed at a safe distance.

"The main reason I'm isolating from my family because I've been treating patients with the virus," Barnes told USA Today. "My wife and kids often get sick with things I bring home from the hospital, and many times in the emergency department, we get caught off guard with patients."

Barnes has been lodging in the treehouse for three weeks. He said it comes with air-conditioning, a bed, access to WiFi, and a minifridge. He speaks to his kids while sitting on his balcony. 

"They're within yelling distance," Barnes said. "But I can call or go up to the glass. They know not to open the door and risk catching something."

He considered purchasing an RV or renting an apartment but wanted to be at home and safely removed that he could see his kids every day before he heads off to the emergency room. 

Barnes describes his living situation as similar to camping but "much more comfortable."

The hardest part he said is showering:

"Christus leadership has made it easy for us to shower at work, but when I'm off for a few days I don't want to go to work to shower, so my oldest son will rig up a water hose," Barnes said. "He's got a nozzle he created with one of those water balloon things that fills up like 30 balloons at a time and he'll set it up and I'll take a quick cold shower."

He said other doctors are isolating from their families in this challenging period, though he said he might be the only one living in a treehouse.

"Many people are doing this quarantining," Barnes said. "I just happen to have a more quirky way, but I'm not doing this to be funny. I'm taking these precautions to be safe."

Some Americans are making scarifies for the nation, while others continue to ignore social distancing measures and could trigger the second coronavirus wave.