Protecting Three Generations from COVID-19
Three generations living together in East Elmhurst, Queens, had already lost the matriarch of the family to coronavirus when VNSNY Home Care nurse Cidric T. began visiting. His patient was Oscar, the grandfather, just released from the hospital with COVID-19. Cidric found a family in mourning for their grandmother, and seven of eight family members asymptomatic, but testing positive for the illness.
“It’s very painful to lose Abuela, and all I want is for my grandpa to be healthy,” said Maria, the patient’s granddaughter. “I want to thank nurse Cidric, who’s by our side and helps us out.”
Bridging Isolation at End of Life
When faced with a terminal diagnosis, most patients prefer care
at home with loved ones. Patients in the final stages of COVID-19, however, declined so quickly that transferring home from the hospital was not easy. VNSNY Hospice nurse Alisa G. went to great lengths to see that Rafael* made it home to take his final breaths with his wife by his side. “In the end, the wife said to me, ‘God bless you. You’re an angel,’” said Alisa.
VNSNY Hospice provides end-of-life care primarily in the home
but also cares for patients in hospitals, nursing homes and other residential settings. During the COVID-19 pandemic VNSNY Hospice liaisons like Alisa found ways to connect families and their hospitalized loved ones in their final hours. Our Hospice liaisons arranged FaceTime goodbyes and held patients’ hands, so no one would be alone at the end. “It’s what we do…it’s what we have to do,” says Alisa.
Keeping Chinatown Elders Safe and Connected
Imagine being homebound in a tenement walk-up, cut off from your community and culture, with little access to news about the global pandemic sweeping the city. Into this extraordinary isolation and anxiety comes beautiful music and the memories and hopes it inspires, all courtesy of VNSNY’s Chinatown Community Center in partnership with the Si-Yo Music Society Foundation, Inc. “Music is a universal language,” said Carrie N., manager of VNSNY’s Asian Community Centers. “It has a healing power that can help us escape from the current health crisis.”
Although the Chinatown Community Center temporarily closed its physical location due to COVID-19, staff members continued to answer phone calls and to run virtual programming that kept the center’s members connected to care, community and culture during challenging times—including biweekly virtual concerts.
VNSNY’s Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community (NNORC) is also dedicated to supporting Chinatown’s elders. Early in the pandemic, NNORC nurse Xiang Jin and his colleagues, who speak Cantonese and Mandarin, called every member to connect them to care and teach them about virus symptoms and prevention. “I’m not only teaching members—they go on and teach their families,” said Xiang.
Caring for COVID Patients in Need
Claude*, a previously healthy young father, spent nearly two months in the hospital with COVID-19, including 20 days on a ventilator and in kidney failure. But Ruth never gave up hope, imploring doctors to do all they could.
“I have two little kids who need their father,” said Ruth. Thanks to the doctors and the VNSNY clinicians who visited him at home, Claude is back to his active life with his family.
One lingering symptom of the illness was a debilitating blood clot in Claude’s left arm. VNSNY occupational therapist Malky S. worked with him to regain strength and range of motion so he could resume daily activities like dressing on his own. “It’s really rewarding to be there for him during this hard time to help him regain his independence,” Malky said. “He’s come so far already.”
Ruth is grateful for Malky’s motivation. “Malky is very good about encouraging him, reminding him how much better he’s getting every day,” said Ruth.
Educating and Empowering Young Mothers and Their Children
Nurse Miriam S. heard the anxiety in the young mother’s voice. When they got down to “real talk,” as Miriam said, Lila mentioned that her baby’s father had tested COVID-positive. Miriam, who works with at-risk, first-time mothers through VNSNY’s Nurse-Family Partnership (NFP), helped Lila make the right choices. “Every phone call, I let her know she’s an excellent mother,” said Miriam. “During this time of uncertainty and darkness, it’s so important to hear something good about ourselves. This empowers the mother and will make a difference for future generations.”
Says Lila, “It’s like having a good friend to talk to about your problems.” Miriam visits one-on-one with NFP mothers to help them and their babies stay healthy and meet their goals. Because of the pandemic, the visits went virtual, including a telehealth assessment of mother and baby, followed by Miriam’s “real talk.”
The NFP mothers wonder where to get diapers or find a food bank, and how to stay healthy. “I can hear a lot of fear in the not-knowing,” said Miriam. “By the end of the call, their voices change. I can tell they’re going to be okay.”