Former WashU Basketball and Soccer Standout Couple; Facing COVID-19 Challenges of Healthcare Worker with 4 Month Old

By Chris Mitchell, Assistant AD for Communications

Being the partner of a health care worker with a young child is equally as challenging right now as someone that’s on the front line.

Just ask Halsey (Ward) Chamberlin and her husband Mac.

Halsey wardHalsey is a 2009 WashU graduate and was a three-year letterwinner on the women’s basketball team. She scored 610 points in 88 career games, and helped lead the team to a pair of NCAA runner-up finishes. She is shown in the photo, right with  Women’s basketball head coach Nancy Fahey during the finals of the McWilliams Tournament– on the day Fahey recorded her 500th win.

Mac is a 2012 WashU grad and was a four-year letterwinner on the men’s soccer team. He scored four goals in 63 career games as a midfielder, and played an integral role on two NCAA Tournament teams.

Fast forward eight years.

The Chamberlins were married on, Sept. 29, 2018, and welcomed a son, Mays, on Jan. 2, 2020.

Halsey is a consultant at School Health Corporation and currently on maternity leave until the end of April, while Mac is in his third year of residency at Highland Hospital in Oakland, California.

While Halsey is home taking care of their three-month old newborn, Mac is on the front line of the COVID-19 pandemic seeing patients in the emergency room at Highland.

CHALLENGE
The couple faces a challenge each day.  With Mac on the front line, it takes time away from family which is difficult for Halsey, who is quarantined at home in a one-bedroom apartment.

“It’s made it more challenging when I am not able to see our friends. I am not able to go to coffee dates or go work out with friends. There is a new level of me being alone while Mac is at work,” she said.

There is also an added worry for Halsey that her husband is being exposed to this unknown, invisible enemy – the virus.

“I feel like I am not able to protect my family from this virus as Mac is talking to it every day.”

Living in a one-bedroom apartment has also had its challenge for Mac, who is not able to be isolated from his son.

“We are doing our best to keep things clean before they come in the door.” Chamberlin said.

The hospital recently added the ability to test for COVID-19, and are currently seeing a slow steady flow of positive cases per day. The hospital has also established new rules following a shift for prevention.

“We have a system in place that adds some time after our shift. We shower at the hospital, put on new clean clothes, and try to come home as clean as possible,” Mac added.

ISOLATION
The couple has discussed numerous times that if the COVID-19 ramps up in California, what changes could be made to protect Halsey and Mays.

“We have discussed Mac staying with some friends while I am with Mays in the apartment, or sending both of us back to Little Rock, Ark., to stay with my family,” Halsey said.

A decision to send the family to Arkansas also includes access and assistance to child care, in addition to viral exposure.

Mac admits it’s an added stress, and does not want to spend one to two months apart from his family, but will do what is best to protect them.

“We have had this discussion because I don’t want Halsey to get sick. Being a single parent with no help during the day, if she got sick this could be a major problem.”

AWAY FROM HOME
Most people feel stuck during COVID-19, with not being able to have an action to take.

Mac gets to make a difference each day in his job, and is grateful that he has something to offer. But it does not make it any easier to leave his family each day.

“It makes us anxious when we look at the calendar to see how many shifts are lined up,” he said.

And Halsey knows he feel guilty for leaving his family, but is always the first to help out when he gets home.

“Mac feels guilty about it, but he is the best about coming home and helping out and gives me a break without complaint. He is my only chance of getting alone time.”

SUPPORT SYSTEM
After living in New Zealand (Halsey) and going through medical school (Mac), the Chamberlins still rely on a support system of WashU athletics alumni during this difficult time.

Both said the bonds between WashU student-athletes have stayed strong despite being apart.

“They are still some of our closest friends that we bounce tough decisions off of,” said Mac.

Halsey added “Those are still our people and our WashU Family!”

Once a BEAR, always a BEAR!

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