June 18, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

A Newly Minted Nurse, On the Frontlines of COVID-19 Fight

When Shoshana Gordon envisioned the start of her career as a nurse, she probably didn’t think it would turn out quite like this.

Shoshana, of Highland Park, New Jersey received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree (BSN) from Touro College in New York in Spring 2019 and earned her Registered Nurse (RN) license shortly thereafter. She was fortunate to quickly land a good job near her parents’ home, at St. Peter’s University Hospital in New Brunswick, and looked forward to starting in the role.

She began working as an RN/intern at St. Peter’s on March 2 and on her second day of a one-week orientation she heard the news reports about the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in New York. After orientation she was assigned to the CPCU, the Cardiac Progressive Care Unit, and began working three shifts, 12 hours per shift, each week.

After her fourth shift, she didn’t feel well and found that she had a fever. The fever was accompanied by a persistent cough, dizziness and a headache. Though she did not get a test, her father had tested positive for the coronavirus so she believes she caught the virus too. Her experience with the condition was not as intense as others; the fever lasted a few days and the cough for two weeks.

Shoshana recovered completely and returned to work on April 1. As part of standard procedures at the hospital, someone takes her temperature and Shoshana has to answer a questionnaire on potential symptoms. Thankfully, she’s been symptom-free since her return.

On her return to the hospital Shoshana was assigned to a COVID-19 floor and assists four patients on a floor of 20. She finds the work both challenging and fulfilling, with some very low points and other very uplifting moments.

At the end of a shift, she can feel physically exhausted and discouraged. She may have heard the code blue calls several times during her shift, and not everyone survived. She thinks back to her training and remembers that she knew people would die; she just didn’t know she’d encounter it as often as she has now.

In these low points, she reminds herself that Hashem is in charge and “there is only so much I can do.” She is energized by the sense that, with the rules now preventing family members from visiting COVID-19 patients (which can make patients feel very lonely), she now serves as the patients’ advocate and surrogate family member.

Some of the most inspiring moments come when she sees a patient making progress, such as when someone who needed oxygen is able to gradually reduce the oxygen level until they no longer need it. Some take days, some take weeks, and she encourages them every step of the way. When they are recovered enough to be discharged from the hospital, it is deeply rewarding.

The hospital has developed the practice of broadcasting the song “Here Comes The Sun,” by the Beatles, over the PA system every time a COVID-19 patient is discharged. They also broadcast the song “We’re All in This Together,” from the High School Musical soundtrack, at the end of each shift. The music helps motivate her to keep going. Hearing either song reminds her of the life-saving importance of her work, the impact she makes on the patients she serves and her contributions to the team she works with.

By Harry Glazer

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