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CHC Healthcare Heroes: Tom Mazza '11 Shares Experience Working as an ER Nurse in Philadelphia During COVID-19

CHC Healthcare Heroes: Tom Mazza '11 Shares Experience Working as an ER Nurse in Philadelphia During COVID-19

Tom Mazza '11Life 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 Tom Mazza '11, an ER registered nurse at Einstein Medical Center Montgomery just outside of Philadelphia, who shared his experience and reflected on what it's been like working and living during this pandemic.

by Tom Mazza '11

I am a graduate of the Class of 2011, and I majored in biology.

I am an ER registered nurse at Einstein Montgomery. I have been there since August 2019 after Hahnemann University Hospital closed. Daily activities include triaging and taking care of and stabilizing patients. I can have more or less 15 patients in a one 12-hour shift. Our daily shifts have changed since coronavirus — we have to wear a mask and eye protection our whole shift. How we take care of COVID-19 patients and prepare to take care of a potential COVID-19 patients slow things down. It’s quite a process to go into those rooms now as wearing all our protective gear and clustering our care takes more time. Currently, the amount of patients we are seeing is down, but the acuity of patients is certainly higher. Making sure I am protected and others are protected while I take care of these patients is very important, so is making sure they know they are not alone.

My emotions at the beginning were, “Oh, it’s just the flu.”  Then they turned into being scared to go into work, and I was anxious knowing I would have to wear a mask the whole shift. But now I have comfort from my coworkers and the community. I know my coworkers are there to back me up, and the community shows they are with us by their generous food donations and many other donations they have made to help us get through our shifts. I am also sad at times when patients get bad news and aren’t able to have family with them. 

The biggest difference now is we have to go in and get our temperature taken and get our allotted PPE for the shift. Even leaving work is a new, complex process. I wipe down all my stuff with cleaning products before I leave: my phone, watch, ID, glasses. I change from my scrubs to other clothing and spray my shoes with Lysol. I leave my shoes outside. I wash my hands before I leave work and then hop right into the shower as soon as I get home. 
My biggest concern is that someone I know will get really sick from it or that I will be that one person who is healthy but gets very sick from it. I also worry I'll bring it home to my roommate or to family and friends, even with social distancing. Personally, a way I have dealt with this pandemic is that I have been posting a daily diary on social media of experiences, opinions, and research. 
When all of this is over, my plan is to get back to normal — go to a restaurant, a bar, shop in a clothing store, and spend time with friends and family without worrying or wearing a mask. 
The best advice I have for fellow Griffins is just to remember basics like frequent hand hygiene, following directions and recommendations from the CDC, and wearing a mask when necessary, especially around the most at risk. People need to understand this is a real virus and how it spreads can be very quick. 
Posted In: Alumni News