COVID-19 frontline worker spotlight: Mrs. A

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Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in New York City, the once-bustling streets teeming with people are now left empty, with businesses shut down and nonessential workers ordered to stay at home. However, frontline workers are continuously reporting to work, putting themselves at risk to serve the community. Mrs. A, the mother of a Townsend Harris student who has requested to remain anonymous, is one of them, working as a nurse at a city hospital in New York. 

Mrs. A has worked in the medical field as a pediatric nurse for 16 years and a school nurse for the past 12 years. Prior to the pandemic, she worked at a public school on weekdays and occasionally as a nurse in a hospital setting on weekends. 

Since the closing of schools due to the outbreak, the Department of Health nurses that work in schools have been assigned other roles. “We’ve managed to move a lot of the public school nurses. They have given us one assignment, whether [that be] going to the hospital to help out or… making phone calls on behalf of the city, reaching out to hospitals, nursing homes, patients, etc.,” Mrs. A said. “But for me right now, I work in a city hospital as a ‘sitter,’ where they assign you to only one patient… usually older patients who might be confused, who can easily fall, so you are assigned… for the safety of that patient,” she said. 

Although Mrs. A works in a unit where there are COVID patients, she does not always have direct contact with them. “My patients are usually in one room. The last two [patients] I worked with did not have COVID, but I believe…one of the patients I took [care of] for two days had a diagnosis of COVID.”  

With potential exposure to the virus on a daily basis, Mrs. A worries for the safety of both herself and her family. “I am putting my family in possible danger… there was that fear the first time I went to work,” she said. However, she makes sure to take proper safety precautions. “Once you get onto the unit you have to put on a N95 mask… I have a hair net, a face shield, and [a] gown. My shoes have to be cleaned when I get into the car to come back home,” she said. 

During such times, her family tries to be as supportive as possible. “There are some levels of anxiety and apprehension before going to work and even when coming back… there are levels of impatience and frustration. Everyone has to make the necessary adjustments,” her husband expressed. Mrs. A’s daughter feels that her mother’s busy work schedule limits the amount of time they spend together. “She comes home at five every day and is often tired,” she said, but added that her mother often stresses “the importance of how to live your life to the fullest and of helping people in any way, shape or form.”

Mrs. A voiced her concerns on the situation, explaining, “From the nursing perspective, science is limited. I don’t know what the new normal is going to be. I don’t know medically speaking how this is going to end,” she said. Though many uncertainties lie ahead, Mrs. A believes that this pandemic has strengthened her faith as a Christian even more. “I have concerns, but I have trust in God,” she said. 

While frontline workers are tirelessly working during this pandemic, Mrs. A advises those at home to take sensible precautions. “Keep praying for the front liners. Please wash your hands, get some fresh air, drink lots of fluids, and sleep,” she said. “We are still standing. There are still people that are alive that survived it and we can learn lessons from that.”

Art by Amanda Renzi, Editor-in-Chief.