A salute to heroes in the pandemic war

They’re deep in the trenches. Health care workers and medical professionals fighting a war with a common enemy: the coronavirus.

For months, doctors, nurses and other medical personnel, as well as researchers and mental health care professionals, have put their own personal safety on the line to save lives. They’ve sacrificed time with loved ones, nights of sleep and even the right to live in their own homes while caring for COVID-19 patients.

Jmore proudly recognizes the health care heroes among us. Hundreds of members of our community are on the front lines, researching treatments and vaccine possibilities, caring for the critically ill and providing strength to those struggling with this horrific virus.

Here are some of their stories.

During this pandemic, many parents are home at night tucking their children in bed. But not Hinda L. Rosin. Instead, the nurse anesthetist sacrifices her nights to serve on Northwest Hospital’s airways team.

“Unfortunately, we are starting the process for the [COVID-19] patients who are on ventilators,” Rosin says. “When we are called for imminent intubation [having tubes inserted to improve breathing], the patients are very short of breath and in distress. But for those that are conscious, I can’t imagine the feelings they have watching us come in gowned up from head to toe. It’s hard to hear us because of the masks, but I try to speak with them, hold their hands and explain we are here to help them breathe.

“It’s powerful to think we may be the last people these patients are awake for.”

Rosin normally works at Sinai Hospital. But when the pandemic broke out, she redeployed to Northwest, which like Sinai, is part of LifeBridge Health.

“I felt like being the age I am, with no co-morbidities, put me at low-risk,” says Rosin, 36. “I’m not in contact with anyone other than my husband and children, who are also low-risk. Not everyone in my department has that. Some of them have co-morbidities, and others live with elderly family members. So when they needed volunteers, I felt I was at a good place to do so.”

Rosin’s team includes an anesthesiologist, a nurse anesthetist and a surgical technician.

“We see patients who are coming into the emergency department having issues breathing, as well as patients who are already admitted and having problems with their breathing tubes,” she says. “We are also responsible for the patients who weren’t previously intubated and their progress regressed to a point where they required breathing assistance. The lungs of the patients we are seeing, both old and young, are so bad their oxygen saturation plummets and their intubations need to be done quickly.”

Safety of the health care providers and patients is a top priority, with wards set up within the hospital to accommodate COVID-19 cases.

“You can tell these units are new and have been created with makeshift doors that close using a zipper,” Rosin says. “They look like HAZMAT units, which is exactly what they are. We treat every patient like they are COVID-19 positive, and I feel very protected when I enter a room. I wear an N95 mask under a PAPR [Powered Air Purifying Respirator], an Ebola suit with two gowns on top of that, boots up to my knees and three pairs of gloves.”

In addition, Rosin takes steps to keep her loved ones safe, including changing her clothes at work and not touching anyone before taking a shower.

“I know a lot of people are living away from their families, but I wouldn’t be able to do that,” says Rosin. “There is a small part of me that wonders and hopes I’m doing enough to keep my family safe, but I can’t think that way.”

Because Rosin is one of the first care providers COVID-19 patients see, she doesn’t always know their outcomes. But she hopes she’s able to give them some peace of mind while she’s caring for them.

“I hold their hand and try to give them comfort,” Rosin says. “They are in so much distress, I don’t know if they can hear me. But I try to speak to them nonetheless.”