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New Yorkers stay strong during pandemic

Residents reach out to nurses to show support, appreciation

FRONTLINE STORIES
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This year, especially here in New York — the epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic — there are more reasons than ever to recognize nurses. Their amazing work on the front lines of care has been nothing short of heroic, and it has made New Yorkers stand up and say “bravo” in countless meaningful ways.

By Eileen P. Williamson, MSN, RN

New Yorkers from Battery Park to the Bronx, Brooklyn to Staten Island, east to west, and north to south showed their gratitude with commendations from national, state and local leaders; prayers; cards; notes; letters; YouTube videos, tweets and Facebook posts. Local residents offered salutes, words of encouragement and praise, along with lots and lots of food! Generous owners of many New York eateries, who themselves were taking huge losses in business, have distributed free food — from pizza to donuts — to nurses, first responders and ancillary staff working with them across the city and beyond. None of these restaurateurs could do what these healthcare professionals were doing, but they could at least feed them, many said. As the days became weeks, news reports chronicled the pride felt by New Yorkers who rallied around nurses and other frontline workers to show their support.
Residents at home in self-quarantine took time to stand out on their balconies and terraces to cheer and applaud nurses, planning special times to clap in unison throughout the five boroughs and spreading the word on social media under the hashtag #ClapBecauseWeCare.

Here in New York, there will be a lot of grateful citizens who saw firsthand how professionalism became heroism and duty became devotion.

— Eileen Williamson, RN

Oh, how they cheered them!

As the outbreak continued, New Yorkers continued to reach out their hearts and hands to show their love in a big way. When New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo sent word that hospitals needed more staff, thousands of retired healthcare workers signed up amazingly fast to join the force needed for an impending patient surge. Out of retirement and back in the game, retirees made a difference for their colleagues that was immediate and immeasurable.
NYC’s food and beverage industries provided much-needed meals, while the Four Seasons Hotel gave rooms to nurses and doctors to use between shifts, and Bill and Hillary Clinton sent 400 pizzas to New York hospitals’ frontline staff.
Robert Kraft, owner of the NFL’s New England Patriots sent 300,000 N95 masks to New York after doing the same in Boston.

Tari Brodsky, a Long Island nurse, started a “Pics for Providers” project as a way for others to show appreciation through drawings and cards for nurses, physicians and other healthcare providers as they tirelessly cared for patients. In an online post, women’s health expert Beth Battaglino, RN-C, CEO of HealthyWomen, wrote, “Like many nurses, I’m proud to serve patients and their families during this moment of national crisis, and I have felt the outpouring of support and appreciation for nurses from people around the country.” The American Nurses Association and the New York State Nurses Association, along with many other professional nursing groups, have publicly recognized nursing for going above and beyond in preventing the spread of COVID-19. These are just some of the beautiful things New Yorkers and those who love New York have done for our nurses. And as a nurse and a New Yorker, I could not be prouder! National Nurses Week May 6-12 might be different this year. A luncheon, Thank You card, an award or a gift may not be enough.
But here in New York, there will be a lot of grateful citizens who saw firsthand how professionalism became heroism and duty became devotion.
With the many nurses who will still be on duty that week, still caring for their COVID-19 patients, chances are it will be easy to find a nurse to thank.

About the Author

Eileen P. Williamson, MSN, RN, is a former senior vice president and chief nurse executive for Nurse.com. Williamson continues to write for Nurse.com and serve in an advisory role.

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Watch our special Nurses Week tribute video!

It would be impossible to find anyone not in awe of what these experienced, skilled, generous professionals have given to those affected by the coronavirus. The outpouring of love and support from people, groups, TV and radio stations, and every newspaper on New York City newsstands has been unending. Over the weeks, as ever-increasing numbers of New Yorkers fell victim to COVID-19, the city’s citizens watched with pride as nurses at the heart of it all rose to the challenge in every hospital, even as they learned New York’s deaths and virus cases were the highest in the nation. In emergency room after emergency room, ICU after ICU, New York City nurses were joined by colleagues from other boroughs, Long Island, upstate New York, Connecticut and New Jersey.
Together they rose to each challenge, caring for the critically ill, working long hours and multiple shifts, dealing with unrelenting heartbreak and death, and living through a painfully difficult time, both personally and professionally.

Giving from the heart

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