The Queens Memory Project brings you the second episode of season two of the Queens Memory Podcast. This season we have collected documented experiences of Queens residents during the COVID-19 Pandemic.
In this episode, we hear from two nurses who work on the front lines of the pandemic. Their testimonies in the early weeks and months provide insight to the devastation COVID-19 has reaped and the responses of New York hospitals. Also on this episode, Marah Rocco of the Rockaways shares how she has brought people together to release anxiety in a fun and primal way.
On April 17th, Governor Cuomo delivered a press briefing in which he stated the importance of decreasing the spread rate of the virus. He announced predictions that 55,000 - 100,000 hospital beds would be needed at the peak and called for the state and federal government to work together.
Patricia Tiu, a nurse in Queens, recorded herself in the first weeks of the virus and shared her experiences working in a hospital with a number of media outlets as well as with us at the Queens Memory COVID-19 Project. At the end of March, in her first recording, she notes that she had moved into her family’s basement to protect them from the virus that she battles daily. Patricia reports that nurses from other specialties within the hospital have been required to take on expedited ICU training so they can assist with COVID-19 patients. She expresses distress over what she perceives as people who don’t work on the front lines and don’t understand the magnitude and seriousness of the pandemic.
Weeks later, in another recording, Patricia has moved into emergency housing for hospital workers, a hotel, in order to protect her family and loved ones. She speaks of a ventilator shortage and the hard choices hospital staff have to make, how the hospital has transformed much of its space into an ICU to handle the number of COVID-19 patients, and the anxiety she and other nurses feel going into work every day, ready to fight.
In Cuomo’s April 2nd press briefing, the governor reports that New York City has only enough supplies to last six more days, and that healthcare workers from upstate New York and across the country are coming to New York City to assist with the drastic surge in cases.
A nurse from Florida, Joi, talks about her decision to come to New York and her experience in hospitals since arriving. She explains how COVID-19 can attack the body and instances where ventilators have caused damage to lungs.
Joi and Patricia talk about the importance of health care workers maintaining their mental health in these trying times, and encourage others to check in with health care workers they know.
Later in the episode, Rockaways resident Marah Rocco shares how she began howling with her community, a practice that reportedly started in Denver. Marah’s daughter Caitlin Cacciatore reads her poetry aloud.
If you are a health care worker, first of all, thank you, and please consider these medical professional-aimed resources to address mental health in the time of COVID-19:
Mental Health America has easily accessible resources for dealing with fear of exposure, death of patients, compassion fatigue, and more.
The American Medical Association has tips on caring for the mental wellbeing of yourself, your staff, and your patients.
Massachusetts General Hospital provides tips and tools supported by videos to manage mental health.