Nurses will commemorate the colleagues who died on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic and share stories of their lives, and community leaders will share stories of neighbors and loved ones lost
New York, NY — TODAY, Tuesday, Dec. 13 from 7:30-8:30 p.m., nurses, faith, and community leaders will hold a vigil outside of NewYork-Presbyterian to honor colleagues and patients lost to the COVID-19 pandemic. Nurses will share stories to commemorate the lives of their colleagues who died on the frontlines saving lives during the pandemic and draw attention to the continued and urgent need to protect the health and safety of caregivers and community members. Community leaders will share stories of neighbors and loved ones lost to COVID-19.
WHAT: NYSNA nurses at NewYork-Presbyterian, faith and community leaders, and allies, including Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, to hold vigil for nurses and patients lost to COVID-19
WHERE: Outside of NewYork-Presbyterian Milstein building main entrance at 177 Fort Washington Ave, New York, NY 10032
WHEN: TODAY, Tuesday, December 13, 2022 from 7:30 - 8:30 p.m.
NY Presbyterian nurse Anna Czarny, RN said, “My friend and coworker Peter Chin died of COVID after getting sick at work. I will never forget Peter. Before the pandemic, he and I were the early birds of the unit, coming into work early to sip our coffee, debrief on how our backs still hurt and our body ached from yesterday, listening to classic rock jams. Peter was right there with us all the time. He could sense when my workload was overwhelming and would swoop in to help me clean patients, never saying no, rather 'who's next.' Then the pandemic hit, and it was a scary and traumatic time for all of us. Having a team of nurses that we could depend on, is the only way we survived the worst of the pandemic – for those of us that did survive. And Peter was essential to that team."
NY-Presbyterian Pediatric ER nurse Deidrea Bryan, RN said, "I have long COVID now and my life will never be the same. I am not the same. I don’t breathe the same. I don’t have the same exercise tolerance and I experience brain fog. Since the pandemic began, I have been in the ICU twice because of COVID-19. My most severe experience was last year when I had severe COVID pneumonia that required bipap to help me breathe. I’ve experienced trauma and so have my loved ones. If I’m asleep, they check if I’m breathing. If I catch a cold, they’re scared that I’ll end up in the ICU again. It has been a trying experience. I am speaking out at our vigil because the trauma is still with me and with all the healthcare workers who had severe COVID."
NY-Presbyterian ICU nurse Lori Wagner, RN, said, "We lost patients, we lost loved ones, we lost colleagues. We also lost time that we’ll never get back again. I have a child who is immuno-compromised and has asthma. I couldn’t go home for two months because I couldn’t risk bringing COVID home to my child. I was sleeping in a dorm room alone every night during that time, working 16-hour shifts, 7 days a week, knowing no matter how much we did, it would never be enough and patients would still die. To this day, my son will ask me when I leave for work if I’m going to come back home."
“We are experiencing the worst public health crisis of our lifetime, and with that comes selfless sacrifices from our City's frontline workers, especially our Nurses,” said New York City Council Member and Health Chair Lynn Schulman (29th Council District, Queens). “As we commemorate those we lost and honor their memory, we need to do everything possible to support and protect our current frontline workers and make sure they have the resources needed to work in a safe and healthy environment.”
New York City Council Member Carmen De La Rosa, 10th Council District, Manhattan, Chair of the Committee on Civil Service and Labor said, “our city and nation are indebted to the sacrifices that nurses made during the pandemic, which continue to this present moment. The more than 17,000 NYSNA members deserve a fair contract that improves patient care, protects the nursing workforce, and build healthy communities. I am proud to stand in solidarity with these front line workers who selflessly provide dignified care everyday to all New Yorkers. We call on the leadership of NY Presbyterian to negotiate in good faith and offer a fair contract for nurses today! “
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine said, “After almost three years of Covid, we are facing a hospital staffing crisis that if left unresolved will lead to worse care and patient outcomes, especially for the most vulnerable New Yorkers. It is imperative that NewYork-Presbyterian come to the bargaining table with an offer for nurses that honors their worth and keeps them safe,” said Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine. “The only way to survive this pandemic and prepare for the next one is by fully staffing our hospitals – that means NYP must provide wages and conditions that make nursing positions sustainable for the heroes who accept them.”
New York City Council Member Shaun Abreu, 7th Council District, Manhattan, said, "Nurses are the backbone of the healthcare system, and they have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19. Despite the challenges and dangers of the pandemic, they provided exceptional care to their patients. They sacrificed their own safety for the sake of others, and they will always be remembered as heroes. Today and every day, New York City's nurses deserve our admiration and support."
Sochie Nnaemeka, New York Working Families Party (NYWFP) Director said, "Our nurses kept our communities safe during the worst of the pandemic, and they're keeping us safe today as COVID, flu, and RSV numbers spike across the city. We join NYSNA's nurses in calling for fair contracts that provide quality pay, excellent health care, and improve patient care through safe staffing ratios. The health and well-being of our nurses and all New Yorkers depends on it."
Arelis M.Figueroa, M.Div of the NYC Poor People's Campaign said, “Poor communities around the country experience the highest COVID 19 death rate when compared with more affluent ones. The COVID 19 pandemic exacerbated the pre-existing social and economic disparities of American society; reinforcing the existing health inequality. Supporting front-line essential workers like nurses is the first step of many to reduce these alarming trends.”
The New York State Nurses Association represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. NYSNA is an affiliate of National Nurses United, AFL-CIO, the country's largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses, with more than 225,000 members nationwide.
For more information, visit nysna.org.