NU nurse Tammy Pesaresi, ’18, is among the additional RNs hired by Kaleida Health to respond to COVID surges in its facilities, and is also a COVID response nurse for the New York State Department of Health.
The Youngstown, N.Y., native, who follows a calling instilled in her while she was a young child—"my first job was caring for the elderly sisters at Stella Niagara Infirmary,” she said—is currently deployed to the NYS DOH’s Syracuse location, where she is performing COVID antibody testing on state and local law enforcement agents at a temporary testing site. She is one of a team of registered nurses, site managers, data entry technicians, and National Guardsmen who screen approximately 70-200 agents per day.
She also works at Kaleida Health’s Millard Filmore Suburban location to help care for patients with COVID or a suspicion of COVID. She noted that the additional staffing was required because of the acuity of the patients being cared for, the “enormous effort staff expends donning and doffing PPE,” and the desire to keep the nurse-patient ratios low.
The nurses at the hospital are very supportive of one another, she said, and this cohesive teamwork is helping them to get through this difficult time as well as to ease the worries of their COVID patients.
“COVID patients are scared, anxious, and look to the nurses for answers and comfort,” she said. “The patients under investigation (suspicion of COVID) are worried and wonder who they have exposed and where they contracted the virus from. The staff, truly everyone at the hospital, is working toward helping patients feel comforted, cared about, and trying to help people survive the infection.
“I have witnessed fellow nurses walking together to face this pandemic,” she continued. “We all have fear, but that gets put aside the minute a patient needs us. I have witnessed patients struggling to breathe, afraid, alone; but have also witnessed family calling their loved one, FaceTiming with them, a patient fighting COVID and winning. I also have experienced gratitude from patients for the care we are providing.”
Pesaresi has been sharing her concerns, knowledge, and humor with her nursing peers, and takes comfort in the fact that they are experiencing the same situation as she is. She is thankful for the wisdom, skills, leadership, and compassion she developed through her education, as well, she said.
“It has provided me with everything I need to help in this crisis.”