Healthcare Portrait Project

I started this project because I wanted to recognize people who are working in healthcare during this pandemic. Having previously worked in healthcare pre-Coronavirus, I know that many of them already had a tough enough job and can’t even begin to imagine what it’s like to continue to provide care right now amid resource shortages, scarcity of PPE and other necessary equipment, and the threat of the virus itself.

I have friends and family members who are working in several different capacities of healthcare during this pandemic, so the issue especially hits home for me. This is my way of making sure that their work and dedication are not overlooked.

If you are interesting in participating in the project, please email me at healthcareportraitproject@gmail.com or find me on instagram @mattwrightphoto.

Dr. Shah

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Dr. Shah is a primary care physician. Her scope of practice includes caring for patients of all ages, including addiction treatment and prenatal care.⁣

“During the COVID pandemic, I see my most important duty as keeping patients at home and out of the hospital.  I am now making a point of asking my patients what they are doing to socially distance, and reviewing basic public health recommendations with them.  My goal during this extraordinary time is to address my patients’ medical needs over the phone as best I can and avoid a trip to the emergency room. Minimizing in-person visits is the best tool I have right now to save lives and prevent the spread of COVID.”⁣

Caitlin, RN

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Caitlin has been a nurse for 9 years. She currently works as a critical care nurse in a surgical ICU but her unit was converted so staff could care for Covid-19 patients.

“Nursing is a difficult profession, it is very rewarding. I have met so many wonderful people over the years ( patients and co-workers included). I am proud to be a nurse and hope to help those affected during this time in any way that I can.”

Jason, Firefighter, Simulation Lab Technician

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Jason is a firefighter, former EMT and simulation technician. He helped train frontline healthcare workers at the field hospital inside the DCU Center.

 

Jenny, RN

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Jenny currently works an a nurse in the emergency department.  She says the being a nurse means having empathy for patients who can not have their family members at the bedside with them.

“I became a nurse because the universe knew that I was good at taking care of people. It’s as important to me to hold my patients hand as it is to explain how the new medicine is going to work in their body. I need folks to know we nurses are as upset with all of this as they are. We are coming to work every day and leaving in hopes that we didn’t spread the virus to anyone during that shift. 

We feel the anxiety of our patients and the world right now and we are with them.”

John, RN

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John is an Emergency Room Nurse.

“In this pandemic, we are all dealing with an incredible amount of stress. Not so much the work load, but the almost ‘impending doom’ feeling that looms over our heads. Everyone has it, not just front line workers. It’s the question of ‘do I have this thing and not have symptoms? Am I about to pass this on to my elderly mother/father/friend with comorbidities And not know it?’ It’s honestly terrifying. I’m not scared for me, I’m scared for those who are compromised. I’m scared that we get to the point that we have to choose who gets a ventilator and who doesn’t.

The community has been incredible in social distancing and staying home. We have received incredible support from the community like donated food, cards, signs, and we even had a couple across the street at the DCU center playing bagpipes and holding a sign that said ‘Thank you all healthcare workers!’ It was incredible.”

Dashia, EMT

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Dashia has been and EMT for 20 years. I met with her and her partner, Hailey who is Dashia’s wife, after they finished transporting a Covid-19+ patient.

“For the first time since I started doing this job I’m scared. I’m scared of my job. I take every precaution to keep everyone else around me safe. I never thought I would live through something like this. It’s exhausting to do the calls. The PPE, the decontamination process and of course our patient care.”

Hailey, EMT

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Hailey works as an EMT with her wife Dashia. She is also studying to be a nurse.

I have come across an array of different COVID-19 patients.  Some have no regard or care for others, some have been very confused due to not being symptomatic, and some have been sent home to quarantine alone which is very sad.  I do believe that this will be worse before it gets better which has been proven with each shift and every positive patient I come in contact with. I’m very thankful for the healthcare system coming together as one, United.”

Dashia and Hailey, EMTs

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Dashia on working with Haliey:

“She and I have been partners for a few years now. We know how each works and no words are needed. In this pandemic we have had to learn some new routines and have had to think about it in better ways to ensure our safety as well as others for the next call. With her working with me and quarantined with me there’s less of a guilt. We are equally exposed and equally taking the correct measures for our safety.”

Haliey on working with Dashia:

“Working with my wife is the best scenario right now. We are both being equally exposed and equally quarantined together. She is my biggest support system being we have been staying away from our family, for their safety and ours. She and I have been working together for a few years now, there’s no one that would have my back like she does.”

Brian, RN

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Brian has been an acute care RN for 20 years prior to that he worked in EMS.

“I’m now caring for a high risk, medically co-morbid population at a Level IV Detox hospital, many of whom either present with or have developed COVID-19 illness while inpatient. ‘We continue to actively care for patients amidst PPE shortages and other operational challenges. Our clinical and ancillary staff continue to place the health of our patients first and remain hopeful that together, we will pull through this together.”

Michelle, RN

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Michelle is an Emergency Room Nurse.

“I have realized how important it is to make sure my patients do not feel alone. Their families that are equally anxious because they can’t be by their side. It is a scary time for us all. Healthcare workers are not immune to the emotional/physical stressors of this virus. We show up each shift and get it done for our patients, ourselves, our colleagues and our own families. Please…Stay home, Stay safe….We will all get through this together!”

Natalia, X-Ray Technologist/Medical Assistant

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Natalia has been a X-Ray Technologist for 9 years. She also works in a dual role as a medical assistant. Natalia works with her husband Netlin. The couple have two small children together.

“X-ray techs play an important role during this pandemic, in both a clinic and a hospital setting. Most patients suspected of having Covid-19 will receive a chest x-ray, as it is one of the important diagnostic tests performed in helping support diagnosis and progression of the disease. 

Working in frontline healthcare during this time has been both challenging and rewarding. Protocols and recommendations are constantly changing. It’s a struggle between balancing your commitment to help others and the commitment of protecting myself, my family, and loved ones. I know I’m not alone in saying that  while working in frontline healthcare during this time, we juggle mixed emotions of paranoia, fear, worry, relief, pride, gratitude, hope and faith. A roller coaster of emotions, all while keeping a calm and caring and demeanor to support our patients through an intense and scary time.

It’s a struggle between balancing your commitment to help others and the commitment of protecting myself, my family, and loved ones. I know I’m not alone in saying that  while working in frontline healthcare during this time, we juggle mixed emotions of paranoia, fear, worry, relief, pride, gratitude, hope and faith.”⁣⁣

Netlin, X-Ray Technologist

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⁣⁣Netlin has been an x-ray technologist for 8 years, prior to that he was a hospital corpsman in the United States Navy.  His wife also works as a x-ray technologist. The couple have two small children together.

“We are usually amongst the first line of healthcare worker that you will see in a hospital setting. We get exposed to each and every patient (more than once most of the time). I’m so proud to be an X-ray technologist and I’m so grateful that I work for an organization that is committed to do anything and everything to defeat the Coronavirus.⁣

So although this is a scary and challenging time we’ll continue to adapt and overcome. I pray everyone stays safe and thank them for everything they’re doing to protect themselves and communities.”⁣

Natalia and Netlin, X-Ray Technologists

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Natalia on working with Netlin:

“Having both myself and my husband working in frontline healthcare at this time is both very difficult and comforting in a way.  We both have the same fears and concerns about potentially bringing the virus home to each other, our daughters and family who are caring for our daughters while we work through this.

We are both trying to juggle the challenge of working full time (13 hour shifts), home schooling our girls, and managing the roller coaster of emotions that this situation is bringing, along with supporting each other as husband and wife.  We both experience and face the same/similar challenges both at work and at home.

We find the most comfort in each other. There is no other person on this earth right now who could better understand what this experience is like for me in ask aspects,  more than my husband.  I find comfort in being able to come home and talk to him about my day or my feelings and know that he COMPLETELY understands what I’m talking about and can relate to it all.”

Jina, RN

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Jina is an ICU nurse working in Boston with Covid-19+ patients.⁣

“Most of the patients are not what we were told they would be. They’re not elderly, they don’t have long medical histories. We have many parents of school-age children. They seem to go into a hyper metabolic state where they require up to five times the dosages of sedation medications to stay comfortable that someone their size would need otherwise, so we are running through IV medications like water.

We have been donated iPads so that the nurses can put on full PPE to allow families to face time with the patients and the conversations are heartbreaking to watch, especially when you can see or hear kids in the background.

Staff from all over the hospital have been re-deployed to makeshift ICUs. Our first few weeks were non stop training so ICU nurses can take assignments if 3-4 patients (our ratios pre covid are 1 to 2 patients per nurse) with a “helper” non-ICU Nurse that we train in the basics. We’re making it work.

We’re all trying not to spread it to others, we treat our life like a big sterile procedure.”

Allison, Pharmacy Technician 

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Allison works as a pharmacy technician.⁣ Despite the shutdown, countless Americans still need their prescription medications filled.

“We want everyone to feel comfortable coming to a pharmacy. We are taking every precaution possible to ensure we are keeping our valued patients healthy and smiling in this scary time. We try to provide them a small sentiment of normalcy in this crazy time.”⁣

Melissa, Pharmacy Technician 

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Melissa works as a pharmacy technician.

“Working in a retail Pharmacy during the Coronavirus has been challenging and a little nerve-racking. Having a good team and knowing we are here to help, makes me go home at the end of the day knowing I’m making a difference.”

Katelyn, EMT

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Katelyn has 15 years of EMS experience. She works full-time as a Geotechnical engineer while filling EMS shifts during nights and weekends.⁣

“Since COVID, I increased the number of shifts I worked a week due to the need and a calling. Everyday is filled with stress and fear, managing my career and impending furloughs. Tack on the stress of ever-changing protocols and procedures in EMS and someways it feels like you’re carrying the weight of the world on your shoulders. I never thought I’d see the day when my two careers would collide, but courtesy of COVID masks are a permanent fixture on construction sites and ambulances.”⁣

Amanda, RN

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Amanda works as a nurse in a dedicated Covid-19+ unit. She was redeployed from a MedSurg floor to work with an ICU nurse.

“Working with COVID patients has been a challenge. For me personally it has instilled some fear, just knowing how contagious this disease is and the fear of knowing I could be bringing this disease home to my family. Work days present itself with a little bit of anxiety, not knowing what the day has in store, how sick will my patients be today, and even what floor will I be working on this shift.

During this time it has taught me to be adaptable and flexible. I understand that there is a need and I am willing to do my part to help.  Working with these patients has put me on high alert during my shift as these patients have been declining very rapidly.

My role has changed during this time as I have been redeployed to the CVICU to work with an ICU nurse. Many med surg nurses have been redeployed to work with ICU nurses so the ICU nurses are able to care for more patients. On a normal day the ICU nurse takes 1-2 patients depending on acuity. Pairing the ICU nurse with a med/surg nurse, like myself, allows the nurse to patient ratio to increase to 3-4 patients. I did have an orientation into this role but I will not be practicing solo during my time in the ICU.

My role is to support and assist the ICU nurse during this time of crisis so we are able to care for the high volume of patients. This role has been an adjustment for myself as I have had to learn a different flow from patient care to a new documentation system. I am grateful for the opportunity to learn new skills and experiences. The CVICU staff has been more than welcoming and willing to teach. 

 It is has been an amazing experience to watch the sickest population of COVID 19 come off of their ventilators and transfer out of the ICU, making it one step closer to home!”

Chris and Nicole

“I am concerned not for myself, because I have come to the mindset that I will most likely get sick at some point, but mostly that I will bring it home to one of the three children.”

-Chris

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Chris has worked as a paramedic for 10 years, he’s worked as a firefighter for the last five years. His wife Nicole works as a nurse in a correctional facility. Together the couple has three small children.

“During the pandemic, call volume has slowed down, but stress per call has risen, and the time it takes to complete calls has extended, due to putting on several levels of PPE upon arrival at the scene, and then disposing of it properly upon completion of the call.

I am concerned not for myself, because I have come to the mindset that I will most likely get sick at some point, but mostly that I will bring it home to one of the three children. Second to that, if I do get sick, I will have to avoid the children for extended amount of time and as much as they annoy me some days, overall we have a great relationship and enjoy being a parent.

The department has changed policies and procedures across the board, everything from not allowing visitors into the station to us not going into any business unless it is work related. During calls only one firefighter is sent in, and that’s on a case by case basis, with most interactions being thru glass doors or windows and not face to face contact being made. PPE has stepped up, with numerous cleaning sprays and solutions, different suits to wear over our clothes and masks plus eye shields of different levels. The only down side is the amount of PPE available has been limited and we try to use things sparingly while keeping ourselves safe, it’s a fine line to watch every shift.”

 Having both of us work in healthcare, is exceeding stressful, because I worry that she will be sick or injured due to this, and it would put us both out of work causing increased financial hardship as well as mental duress due to the sickness being in the household affecting all levels of family life.”

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“I work In the Infirmary so then scene of viewing sick patients is not new. What’s new is the fear in them and my co-workers.”

-Nicole

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Nicole works as a nurse in an infirmary for a corrections facility.

“The population I dedicate my time to is vastly different than the rest of healthcare. I have been working in corrections for almost four months. The population holds a difficult reputation so the public is not aware or does not spread awareness or concern for them during this time. When in reality they are the most affected as one cases presents itself, they all know deep down it will come to them as well. Within the small quarters they all spread illness around easily and quickly.

I work In the Infirmary so then scene of viewing sick patients is not new. What’s new is the fear in them and my co-workers. The negativity that has spread because of these conditions. Patients unfortunately are occupying their rooms all day long, only coming out an hour a day for hygiene and phone calls. This is causing irritation and agitation among room mates causing escalating issues.

My concerns weren’t a train of thought until our first case was confirmed within our unit. Then realizing working in corrections we were the least of the worries in regards to PPE. Once I was given a yellow thin gown, (meant to be wore once and thrown away.) That is when the fear and concern set in, one yellow paper gown, one N95, and a brown bag. Because this was the only PPE I had until further notice. This improper practice had me on the phone with my fiancé in tears expressing my fear for him and our children.

I honestly can say, that I had concerns for him but I believe his department thought of us as their families. By reconstructing operations to avoid any chance of contact my concerns for him a low. The department has always been thoughtful at getting their firefighters back at home after a shift.

It was a huge challenge in the beginning. We worried about what we would do with our three children. All have asthma, and one with compromised immune system. And as I previously stated the lack of PPE in the beginning was going to cause a huge issue in our household.

We had to send our children to my in laws house until our jobs could provide proper PPE during these positive cases. They were gone for almost a week, the house was so lonely without them. I think that was the worst part, not being with my loved ones. Luckily my future husband surprised me with their return on Easter. I cried, just in pure shock and exhaustion from the long work days and lack of harmony in our household.”

Sue and Jeanine – ICU Nurses and Twin Sisters

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Sue – “These people are scared and desperate. Besides being their nurses, we have  become their emotional sounding board, their family or friends.”

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“Initially my sister and I worked on different floors at Memorial, but after I made a change to the ICU, I told her that she has to come to work with me and that she would love it! We both did and have been there ever since.  Working with her is like working with a best friend. We have each other’s back in the good and the bad. I know my night will be ok because she is there! I really could go on and on about that, but will spare you..

In my 39 yrs as an ICU nurse, I have taken care of some extremely sick patients, just like the Covid-19 patients. The intensive side of it, I am use to. What is different, is that these poor people have such respiratory issues that can escalate in minutes to being intubated and proned in minutes, to hours. 

These people are scared and desperate. Besides being their nurses, we have  become their emotional sounding board, their family or friends. It has become an extremely emotional job! Working during this pandemic has not changed me, but has made my convictions as an ICU nurse stronger but SADDER! These people are alone with no family by their side to talk to them or hold their hands. We become this! I hope I never have to experience it..but am glad that I can do it for them.

As far as what I want the public’s to know…….stay home and please practice social distancing!”

Jeanine – “For the past 39 years, I have always gone into work with a smile. My smile is still there, but not as big. I can’t wait for the day when it becomes big again.”

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“I choose nursing as a career because of my compassion to take care of sick people!

Working during the pandemic has definitely changed nursing for me, if anything, it has made me more compassionate towards my patients!

In this time of crisis, I am the their family! I am their hand holder, their partner to cry with and the one to try and alleviate their fears.

Working in a Covid unit has brought extra feelings of fear in that I may bring the virus home to my loved ones and anxiety that I may not be able to help my patient’s suffering.

Working along my twin sister for the past 37 years has been great! I call it SPECIAL!

I feel that my co-workers are my sisters and brothers, but having my twin sister at my side just makes my night working so much more special. She knows exactly what I need, and goes the extra mile to help me with my patients. Call it twin “telepathy,” and when she cares for my patients, it is as if it was me in the room! In hindsight, I wish I worked alongside her the whole 39 years that I have been at Memorial..

What I would like to emphasize to the public is to really take this crisis seriously, stay home. Social distancing and wearing masks are so important. As nurses, we want this to end sooner than later and we want to stay healthy too!

For the past 39 years, I have always gone into work with a smile. My smile is still there, but not as big. I can’t wait for the day when it becomes big again.”

Taylor is an EMT and paramedic student. During the height of Covid-19, she volunteered to go and work in New York City under a special FEMA deployment with the FDNY.

“I initially volunteered to go to New York because I wanted to help in any way possible. I had been previously screening passengers at Logan Airport days prior and when I was selected for NY I was scared. Could I really do this? ⁣

When we got to New York I was immediately thrown into the 911 system for FDNY working in the South Bronx running sometimes nine or ten calls in a twelve hour shift. It was nothing like what I had done or seen before. I had moments of doubt, however being a paramedic student this was the experience I needed for my career. ⁣

The unknown turned into this wonderful opportunity for growth as an EMS provider. Never do you think you will be on the front lines of a pandemic. It is something you read about but never think you will be a part of and I can truly say this will forever impact not only my career but my life as well. ⁣

EMS is a family and this experience truly opened my eyes to how connected all the health care providers are. Pandemic or not we are all in this fight together.”⁣
⁣⁣⁣⁣

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