When Joe Vecore’s doctoral degree clinical rotation was paused due to the novel coronavirus, he knew he’d head to the front lines, even though it meant living separately from his wife and son for a time.


For nurses, the need to help is “in our blood,” he said.


That’s perhaps especially true for Vecore, one of four siblings working on the front lines at Michigan hospitals.


Joe Vecore, Melanie Hunter, Kim Kerr and Lisa Vecore are all working as medical professionals in the fight against the coronavirus.


Their parents, Jeffry and Cathy Vecore, 65 and 63, of Addison Township in Oakland County are incredibly proud.


Jeffry, a General Motors retiree, and, Cathy, a retired nurse, said they were somewhat surprised so many of their six kids ended up in the medical field.


Each of the four started down a different path — a role in dental hygiene for Hunter and an interest in psychology for Lisa Vecore, among them — before landing where they are now, the pair said. Now, their children are working to save lives in a global pandemic and risking exposure themselves.


Joe Vecore, 33, and Hunter, 36, both of Oxford, work as intensive care nurses at St. Joseph Mercy Oakland in Pontiac.


Kerr, 37, of Sterling Heights, worked as a surgical technologist at the same hospital until Monday. She graduated with a nursing degree last week and now is starting a nursing job at St. Mary Mercy Livonia Hospital.


Lisa Vecore, 38, of Oxford works at nurse anesthetist at Ascension Genesys Hospital in Grand Blanc Township.


And it’s not just those four siblings serving some of the most important roles amid the outbreak. Hunter’s husband is a police officer, and the eldest child in the Vecore family is a teacher grappling with distance learning.


“They never wavered on going to work,” Jeffry Vecore said. “… They never shied away from it, so how can you not be proud of that?”


Jeffry says he’s reminded when he’s driving and hears stories about the coronavirus on the radio. For Cathy, it’s all the time.


They realized how serious the matter was around the time in mid-March when they got kicked off babysitting duty for their grandchildren.


They’re glad for FaceTime, text chains, and the fact that the kids have each other to lean on.


Indeed, the close-knit relations are part of why Joe Vecore went back to work as an ICU nurse, which was his job before starting his doctorate to become a nurse anesthetist.


“Knowing that my sisters were out there on the front lines putting their health at risk, it felt like I needed to do the same thing,” he said.


The focus is the patients, said Kim Kerr.


A mom of three kids under 10 years old, Kerr was already balancing nursing school, work and family before the coronavirus came to Michigan.


She may have finished her schooling, but now she home-schools her kids off her shift, after making sure she’s mitigated any risk of exposure to them.


She rushes to the shower and quickly launders her clothes when she gets home.


“Someone’s got to take care of these patients,” she said. “It’s going to be scary. You’re going to be nervous, you’re going to think you’re bringing it home, but in the end … your main priority is taking care of the patient and not everybody can do that,” she said.


Lisa Vecore remembered crying nearly every day at home when the virus first hit.


She cried for the patients whose bodies were being ravaged by the virus, but she cried too for her brother and sister vulnerable in the ICU, she said.


She wants people to know that health care providers are working incredibly hard right now.


“Sometimes it seems like you’re working the hardest you’ve ever worked and doing everything you can and still people are passing away,” she said.


Family members recalled a particularly tough day for Melanie Hunter.


About five patients died in one day on her unit around Easter Sunday.


“They just go down really fast,” she said.


At home, Hunter, the mother of a 4- and a 5-year-old, grapples with homeschooling, too.


At work, she sometimes sits with dying patients — the lone person to stay with them.


It’s been nice to have technology as an option to connect loved ones who can’t visit the hospital because of concerns of spreading the virus, said Joe Vecore. But sometimes that means a Zoom call to let loved ones see patients unconscious on a ventilator.


“The hardest part for me is having to FaceTime a loved one, and that’s their goodbye is through a phone, because they can’t even visit the hospital,” he said.


Each family member has their own way of getting through each day.


They spend time in person or via Facetime with other family members, they do drive-by birthday celebrations for the kids, and they work out.


There’s cat photos and supportive notes too, said Hunter, laughing.


But having so many loved ones understand the work they do is a help.


“You can kind of talk to them about it and they understand what you’re going through,” she said.


Several of the siblings pointed to their parents’ work ethic and encouragement for their choice of job and dedication during this crisis.


The youngest of the six, Nicholas Vecore, 29, of Addison Township, who works in public relations, recalled his childhood, when the other kids always jumped to help him if something was wrong.


“We’ve all been nervous, I think — just worried about them catching something,” he said. “…At the same time, just talking to them, none of them really show that fear.


“It’s just another day in the job (for them), so I think it’s pretty noble of all four them, honestly.”