Nurses still working the frontlines on Thanksgiving


SYRACUSE, N.Y. (WSYR) — Many families are doing their best to take a mental break from the pandemic, but COVID-19 doesn’t take a break. That means workers on the frontlines are needed this holiday more than ever.

Nurse Kayleigh Kelly doesn’t have the option to sit down with her family on Thanksgiving. “I’ll have a meal before I come in for my evening shift at lunchtime with my husband,” she said.

Par for the course working in a hospital, but this year she’s filling a similar void for patients, who are also alone, at least in-person.

We do this every day, but especially on holidays, we try to make sure we are accommodating with phone calls and video chats with their families. I also like to write a little message on the whiteboard, which is now what whiteboards are for. But I don’t care on Thanksgiving. I’ll write Happy Thanksgiving and draw a bad turkey.

Nurse Kayleigh Kelly

Nurse Rachael Nolan is working the COVID Unit on Christmas, giving her this Thanksgiving off. But outside of the hospital, her responsibility to stop the spread is always on.

I’m personally not seeing any of my family members. Unfortunately, that’s how it is. I do have high-risk members of my own. And with working on a COVID Unit, it’s a decision we came to on our own. It’s the safest for my family. A lot of staff members on our unit are feeling the same way.

Nurse Rachael Nolan

Nolan is practicing what’s being preached because believing in the pandemic isn’t a debate for these nurses, it’s life or death.

“Something that really got to me this past week was a young patient, my age, had to send him down to ICU. He couldn’t catch a breathe, he couldn’t breath,” said Nurse Eldin Mehanovic. “You say to yourself, ‘Wait a second. It’s not just elderly being affected by this. It’s people my age, younger than me.'”

Putting into perspective the sacrifice we’ve all made. Why we wear masks. Why we stay at home. Why this unusual holiday allows future ones.

“I’m thankful for my friends and family, even ones I haven’t seen,” said Kelly. “They check in on me. Everyone is super available and I love them all.”

“I’m thankful for Upstate Hospital because they made sure we were safe through the entire pandemic,” Nolan said.

“I’m thankful for my health and the fact that I can give back to these patients, and give back to our community,” said Mehanovic.

A community that, in turn, will forever be giving thanks to them.

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