North Haven Woman’s Camper Will Be Home For St. James Healthcare Worker

Danielle Vitale, left, and Beth Rascelles with the camper Ms. Rascelles lent her so she can stay at home during the pandemic and still work in a walk-in clinic.

Beth Rascelles, a Sag Harbor Elementary School teacher, admits her 37-foot Keystone Passport camper was taking up valuable space in her North Haven driveway.

So, when she came across a Facebook group called RVs 4 MDs that seeks to pair unused RVs and campers with doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers, she was intrigued.

The group, which now has more than 28,000 members nationwide, was formed when the coronavirus pandemic hit home, and it became clear that many healthcare workers who have been exposed to the virus needed a safe place to self-quarantine to avoid infecting family and friends. While some healthcare professionals have been put up in hotel rooms that sit vacant now that much of the country is on lockdown, that’s not always an option.

Ms. Rascelles offered her camper. “This thing is gorgeous,” she said. “It’s got two bedrooms and two bathrooms. It’s like new.”

Soon, a request came from Danielle Vitale of St. James, a medical scribe at City MD, a walk-in clinic in Farmingville. A recent graduate of Providence College, Ms. Vitale is planning to pursue a career as a physician.

But for the time being, she found herself in a pickle. She is currently living at home with her parents and 93-year-old grandmother, and the chance of spreading the virus to them was simply too big a risk to take.

“I was concerned about my grandma, so I took a leave of absence from work,” Ms. Vitale said. “I was originally looking at hotels, but this just seemed to be the best, least expensive way to do it.”

There was just one minor snag. Ms. Rascelles said she was not comfortable towing the big trailer. Enter Janice Arbia, a bus driver for the Sag Harbor School District and seasoned camper. She volunteered to tow the trailer to Ms. Vitale’s house on Thursday. There she maneuvered it into the driveway — no easy feat itself — and helped connect it to the home’s electric and water supplies.

“It was cute. Her sister and parents came out. Everyone was excited,” Ms. Rascelles said. “It’s just a great way to help someone in need. The camper was just sitting in my driveway. I wasn’t doing anything with it.”

Ms. Rascelles said Ms. Vitale is welcome to use the trailer for as long as she needs it. Ms. Vitale said it is as comfortable as an apartment, with its separate bedrooms, central kitchen, and living area. “You could probably fit six people in here,” she said.

“I’m so glad we found it,” she added. “Now I can go back to work and protect my family at the same time.”