Celebrating A GBCA Head Start Nurse's Selfless COVID-19 Experience
Soraya Perdomo, Associate Director of Special Services in Jersey City for Greater Bergen Community Action (GBCA), acted out of pure selflessness and care as she volunteered 12 hours a day during spring break from her job at GBCA Head Start, at a hospital in the Meadowlands Exposition Center with patients in recovery from COVID-19.
She takes us through some of her experiences during those 8 days, and sheds light on some positive occurrences during such uncertain times.
GBCA celebrates Soraya during this Nurse's Week for all she does and continues to do to help those in need.
Read the transcript of her story in her own words below and click on the video below to listen to her tell story.
My name is Soraya Perdomo. I am working at Greater Bergen as the associate director of special services in Jersey City. I am responsible for the supervision and coordination of the health disability and mental health components of the program. I came to Greater Bergen right after working in a pediatric hospital and I was interested in the position because I have always hoped to use my prior experiences to continue working with children.
But I choose to become a nurse because I wanted a career that is not only challenging and interesting but also one that makes a difference in people's daily life and I really mean that.
My experience with the covid-19 pandemic started just like everybody else's. I was watching the news that I saw medical staff doctors and nurses desperately asking for help. I saw hospitals and nursing homes begging for volunteers to assist with this unprecedented issue. Then I said to my family I am a licensed nurse. I cannot sit here in my living room watching the news crying doing nothing while others need help. I want to make a real difference. Then after long but supportive family discussions I went to the state website with their full blessing.
I register myself to offer my expertise. I volunteered during the spring break recess from April 11th thru April 19th and yes, I worked 12 hours from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. I was assigned to the field Hospital in the Meadowlands Exposition Center. This is a 250-bed facility that opened on April 6th and it was initially for non-covid-19 patients. It was then changed to receive patients that were diagnosed with the virus but were already treated in one of the surrounding Hospitals.
Patients are sent here still in recovery so the nurse's responsibilities are exactly as those performed by any bedside nurse in the hospital. Checking vital signs, administering medication and assisting with the activities of daily living, feeding them and bathing them essentially providing general care.
Also, because many of the patients are Hispanics who do not speak or understand English being someone who can translate and help ease the burden of communication between doctors and patients is invaluable.
One of many moments that I had is the story about an elderly patient who kept complaining that he didn't have a good night sleep and he kept watching patients moving around as they gained strength back and he felt as though he was stuck in his bed because of his dependence on the oxygen tank. So, without thinking twice I grabbed a portable tank and I encouraged him to get up from his bed and we could walk from some laps the hallway. I promised that would be next to him every step of the way. He was very very hesitant and rejected my offer at first. But after some light convincing, we were marching back and forth down that hallway like we were on a mission.
When we returned to his room he said, ``You're my angel thank you so much for convincing me to do it. Sure, enough the next day while I was helping another patient, I saw him walking by himself in the hallway. I was so happy, so excited I was so proud of him. I went to visit him later and I mentioned to him that I saw him exercising. He replied great I was hoping you were watching the miracle you gave me that was priceless.
I am so thankful I had an opportunity to have worked at a place like the Meadowlands field hospital with colleagues who answered the call to serve others. I am so grateful for everything I've learned from the National Guard and Air Force health professionals who I am blessed to say I've worked side-by-side with.
Most of all what truly fills my heart with a pure sense of accomplishment is knowing that through my three layers of masks like the N-95 plus the surgical mask plus the face shield and the full body personal protective equipment. I was able to touch someone on that day and they made their life just a little more comfortable.