Life on the front lines has never been more trying for those working in the healthcare profession. They truly are heroes, and we're so proud to spotlight our very own Jeramy Solema '14, a mobility technician at Hospital For Special Surgery in the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City, who shared his experience and reflected on what it's been like working and living during this pandemic.
by Jeramy Solema '14
I am a graduate of the Class of 2014. I majored in biology, and I was also a member of CHC's men's tennis team during my four years on the Hill.
I currently work at Hospital For Special Surgery (HSS), located on the Upper East Side of Manhattan in New York City. I am a mobility technician in the Pediatric Rehabilitation Department. My responsibilities include assisting in the day-to-day operations of our outpatient clinic and helping our post-operative patients ambulate out of bed on the inpatient floors.
As an elective hospital, we mainly deal with patients with orthopedic and rheumatology needs. As COVID-19 began to spread quickly throughout New York City, HSS decided to suspend all nonessential surgeries to free up beds to take in patients from neighboring hospitals. The hospital was transformed to take in COVID-positive patients as well as attend to any orthopedic emergencies. Our caseload went from seeing patients who may have had spine or knee surgery to patients with more complex cases that we would not normally see at our hospital. From the outpatient side, I have helped our therapists transition to using telehealth as a way for them to provide care to their patients in their own homes.
New York City is known for being the city that never sleeps. Seeing the subway, buses, and streets empty most of the time now is an odd experience. I'm usually attempting to find my way onto a crowded subway car during my commute. Now I do my best to avoid taking mass transit altogether. Luckily, the hospital has provided shuttle service from the five boroughs, Long Island, New Jersey, and Westchester County to and from the hospital. You see almost everyone with a mask on everywhere you go as well as many long lines outside grocery stores. My biggest fear is not contracting COVID-19 myself, but unknowingly transferring it to someone else and potentially endangering someone else's life. But I continue to not let that stop me from my purpose during this pandemic, which is do anything I can to help flatten the curve.
What keeps me going is the support from my family, friends, colleagues, and the community. We have received an abundance of donations at the hospital, ranging from food to hand creams, facemasks, moisturizers, and lip balms. My favorite part of all of this has to be when the entire city cheers on all the healthcare workers at 7 p.m. You see people come outside their apartments, cheer from their windows, and hold up signs. The NYPD and FDNY sound their horns. People have even gotten creative by banging on drums, pots, and pans.
I encourage everyone reading this to continue to follow the CDC's guidelines: Avoid touching your face, wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and maintain social distancing when outside.
A heartfelt thanks and appreciation to #GriffinNation for your overwhelming support not only to myself, but to all the essential workers serving on the front lines on this pandemic.