Voices from the front lines
“You just have to take it one step at a time”
Anisha Advani, MD
Associate Director, Hospitalist Services, Northeast Medical Group
“Every day has been a bit of a roller coaster. We had transformed our service into essentially COVID-only, and I was taking care of COVID patients for eight weeks straight, with new protocols and workflows. Now we face the challenges of the recovery phase – trying to get back to ‘regular life’ and taking care of those patients in the face of all of the changes.
It’s been a little bit of an evolution. In the beginning, I was using my phone to FaceTime with many of the families while I was in patients’ rooms. Now that we have more of the iPads and patients have gotten used to the setup, opportunities to digitally connect have increased.
I’ve been giving my work cell phone number to patient families a lot more often now. It ended up being really rewarding, because weeks after folks were discharged, I would get these follow-up messages. I had one patient who had a very long, complicated case of COVID who was eventually discharged. A month later I woke up on my day off to celebrate my wedding anniversary, and I had received a text message with a picture of that patient and his wife on their 65th anniversary, which was the same day as mine.
I am motivated by the patient stories and seeing the successes. Seeing how impactful we can be as healers even under the worst circumstances, and how people have come together from all disciplines to do things they don’t normally do in an effort to support everyone else has been very inspiring.
My fear is the threat of a resurgence. Also, obviously, the violence and injustice in the world right now. I feel like we’re clawing our way out of both situations at the same time and searching for answers to how we address both through our work every day. That is a challenge.
I cope by writing. Also talking with our team. I honestly don’t feel like I’m coping very well, but I don’t think anyone really is. You wouldn’t be human if you were. You just have to take it one step at a time.”
“It’s OK to say, ‘I’m not OK’”
Food service supervisor, Food and Nutrition
Years at YNHH: 10
“More than two dozen people in our department had been out at various times throughout the pandemic. We’re a resilient group and we’re accustomed to people being out sick and working short-staffed, but never to this extent.
Many people in our department have been nervous. Our motto has been, ‘It’s OK to say I’m not OK.’ We talk at our huddles about what is happening and how we can stay healthy. We share communications. We remind ourselves of the bigger picture and how our work is vital to our hospital’s reputation.
Our patients still expect meals on time, even if we’re down staff. We’ve been able to utilize people in different areas of our department to make this happen. Our team is flexible, and due to the nature of our business, many of our staff are cross-trained to handle multiple positions. Despite the changes, our commitment to being awesome has stayed the same!
At times, my life was consumed with supporting our department – covering shifts and working long hours. Seeing my team step up motivated me to step up for them. Knowing my colleagues recognized my contributions helped keep me going. We had a department meeting and when they mentioned my name and how supportive I was, everyone cheered – and I blushed!
Spending time with my family – and remembering how important family is – has kept me moving forward, though it scares me that I’m not able to visit some family members the way I usually do. Talking to my children and hearing their laughter helps me cope with life during the pandemic. So does having them make poster boards to share with my team to let them know we are in it together!
One bright spot in all of this has been watching our team’s support for one another. When an employee would return from being absent, the entire department would cheer and listen to the challenges he or she faced. We need more nice people in the world, and SRC is a great place to start."
“We all need to be accountable for each other”
Cashier, Food and Nutrition, YSC
Years at YNHH: 31
“I started working at YNHH in 1989 – that was before the Children’s Hospital and Smilow were here. So I’ve seen a lot of changes, but nothing like the changes I’ve seen with COVID.
People in our department were affected by the virus, so it really hits home. Our cafeteria was the only one open at the hospital during the height of the pandemic. At first, people weren’t wearing masks as often as they are now. As a cashier, I felt especially vulnerable because I can’t socially distance from the people in my line. We don’t know if the staff we’re dealing with are working with COVID or not. We put signs up at the front door to remind people to use safety precautions. We all need to be accountable for each other.
Lately, people are doing better with wearing the masks. We also got Plexiglas installed at our workstations for extra protection. Now we all look like bank tellers, but I feel so much safer.
I’ve been noticing the volume in the cafeteria picking up as people return to work. I like my job and I’m a talkative person, so it makes the day go by faster. But there’s not much to do outside of work. I only go out if I have to. It’s sad that you can’t be with your family. I had a grand baby born a couple months ago and I can’t spend time with him. We cancelled a big family gathering we’ve had for 13 years in honor of my grandma. It’s like we woke up one day and everything just stopped.
I’ve learned that life is really precious – you can’t take anything for granted. I know quite a few people who have lost loved ones during this pandemic. You have to appreciate people more. Thank you to everyone who has shown us in Food and Nutrition love and support. Please don’t forget about us – we’re on the front lines, too. And a special shout out to Dean Caruso and Kevin Myatt for always checking in on us.”