24 THE QUEENS COURIER • MAY 7, 2020 FOR BREAKING NEWS VISIT WWW.QNS.COM
Celebrating our heroes, now more than ever
BY ROBERT POZARYCKI
Th e nation pauses every May to celebrate National
Nurses Week and honor the army of men and women
at medical centers across the country who play a critical
role in comforting and saving the lives of countless
But this year’s celebration falls amid the coronavirus
pandemic that has already claimed more than 68,000
American lives — including, sadly, a tragic number of
nurses on the frontlines who contracted the illness themselves
while tending to the sick.
Th e New York State Nurses Association is curating a
memorial page on their website for nurses across the
Empire State who have succumbed to COVID-19. Th ey
off er hints of the dedication, the care and love each provided
to their patients and colleagues throughout their
Ernesto “Audie” DeLeon served as a Bellevue Hospital
nurse in Manhattan for 30 years but died of COVID-19
on April 13.
“During his tenure, he was an incredible inspiration
and a mentor to hundreds of nurses, doctors and other
clinical staff . He was an immensely kind soul with a
humble demeanor,” said Claire Martinez, one of his colleagues.
Mary Ellen Porter, the nurse manager at Richmond
University Medical Center who died of coronavirus on
April 9, “was always there for her staff ,” said fellow nurse
Diane Donaghy. “In the good times, the bad times, when
the fl oors got crazy, she was quick to put on scrubs and
help them when needed.”
Jacqueline Rowe, a Bellevue Hospital nurse who died
on April 15, was “an amazing colleague and friend,” one
colleague wrote. Th eresa Lococo, a pediatric nurse at
Kings County Medical Center who died on March 28,
“always had the biggest smile, no matter how busy the
pediatric units were,” wrote a co-worker.
Th ese are just glimpses into the dedicated lives of these
nurses who gave “their last measure of devotion” by caring
for New Yorkers suff ering the worst eff ects of a disease
for which a cure or vaccine is not yet available.
But thousands more nurses are on duty at this very
moment in medical facilities across the country, putting
their own lives on the line while working hard alongside
physicians, lab technicians and other professionals to
save as many people as possible.
Th eir herculean eff orts have not gone unnoticed by the
public — whether it’s through the nightly applause at 7 p.m.
for healthcare workers or organizations donating food and
other supplies to emergency rooms across the city.
For many nurses, however, these gestures of gratitude
must also be backed up with additional support so they
can protect themselves and their own families.
Th e NYSNA has gone to court seeking increased
access to N95 masks and protective personal equipment
(PPE) to shield nurses and other professionals from
infection. On Tuesday, the City Council heard arguments
over legislation to create an “Essential Workers
Bill of Rights,” potentially opening the door for nurses
to receive additional pay for their eff orts to stop this
In reality, long before coronavirus arrived at our doorstep,
these nurses have deserved greater protection, compensation
and recognition for the care they provide their
patients every day. Th ey work long shift s and are on their
feet most of their day shuttling between multiple patients,
comforting them while administering tests and medication.
Maternity nurses guide new mothers through the painful,
yet miraculous process of childbirth. Emergency
nurses console the victims of tragedy while also scrambling
with doctors to save the victims. Nurses in oncology
wards help cancer patients cope with the illness they’re
battling. Palliative care nurses off er comfort and solace
not just to terminal patients in their fi nal days, but also
Th e pandemic has brought forth a new awareness
about the incredible work of our nurses, who take the
oath Florence Nightingale wrote to “maintain and elevate
the standard of their profession,” to be loyal to their
duties and be “devoted towards the welfare of those committed
to their care.”
We thank and honor all nurses for their service, and we
hope our readers will do the same.
Photo courtesy of Karra Puccia
Thank You Nurses For All That You Do
To Keep Us Healthy And Safe
(877) 786-6560 • myNYCB.com