I have always believed that "those who can, should". This has always been a mantra of mine. And I have always believed that I can. And therefore I do.
When Covid hit, my office closed, as did so many others, and we were asked to work from home. Except my office is different then yours. My office is at a major medical center in uptown Manhattan. Every day, every night, every news article, and TV spot showed hero after hero, my front line colleagues on the job, putting themselves and their families at risk to do we can.
At the beginning, I did as I was told and worked from home, but as things began to worsen, I begged my husband to support my returning to the front line of the fight. And he did, because he knew that I could, and that I should.
I was deployed to one of the many Covid ICU's caring for the sickest patients I had ever seen. I worked 12 hour shifts in the Covid ICU and in my "spare time" managed my own regular practice. When I got home after a non-stop day in PPE, I then began to "detox" as we called it. Changing clothes, washing everything immediately, running to the shower not touching anything, panic and fear of hurting my family never far away from my mind.
But after a week or 2 of this, I began to see a need far more important. I began to get calls, night and day from families who knew their loved one was in the same hospital that I was at. My phone rang off the hook, texts, whats app, Facebook messages, anything from anyone who heard I was there. But, other then trying to visit their loved one there wasn't much more information I could offer.
One day I was contacted by an organization called Chaim Aruchim and was asked if I would consider a role as a family liaison if we could convince hospital administration of the value of this role. Of course, because I can, I did and so newly appointed Family Liaison was added to my roles.
Once this was established through the hospital, I had more ability to update families, see patients in all areas of the hospital, FaceTime with loved ones and be an overall support to so many Jewish patients who found themselves so affected by the virus. This was purely voluntary and was in addition to the other roles I already had including my own Covid ICU role and my own regular job as an Nurse Practitioner in a hugely busy cerebrovascular service.
The liaison role was often one that I did in the late hours of the night, the early am, by text, by phone any method of communication imaginable.
In the end, despite the long hours, the fear, the sadness and the pain that I saw in those days, I am humbled by the strength, bravery and perseverance I saw in the families I helped. I have maintained relationships with many of these families to date and feel so fortunate to have been able to help in some small way.