Every day throughout the pandemic, the headlines have screamed about thousands of cases, hospitalizations and, sadly, deaths. It is all a little overwhelming, all a little difficult to wrap one’s mind around.
The truth, however, is that the fight against COVID-19 is much smaller, much more relatable. It is won, one patient at a time, one vaccination at a time, and through the efforts of one healthcare hero at a time. It is an individual thing, a day-to-day thing.
That is readily apparent at places like The Allure Group, a network of six New York City-based skilled nursing facilities. Every month since December 2020 there have been items in Allure’s newsletter about residents receiving the vaccination, as well as photos and videos of patients being released after being treated for COVID — “Blue Carpet Farewells,” Allure calls them.
The obvious payoff is a healthier population and a more hopeful future … and more. Consider events like the one that took place in June, in Allure’s Hamilton Park Nursing and Rehabilitation Center — the renewal of wedding vows between a resident, Gerard Reynolds, and his wife, Bernadette Caruso. It was the third time they had done so, and it came on their 41st anniversary. It also came after they had been apart for nearly two years.
Reynolds told News 12 Caruso was his “one and only love,” and Caruso responded in kind.
“Love is not a feeling,” she said. “It’s an act of will.”
An act that was once again rewarded, after a prolonged wait.
“We’re not waiting anymore,” Caruso said. “Who knows what’s going to happen next? A meteor could hit us.”
The Allure Group began inoculating its residents in December, shortly after the Pfizer/BioNTech and Moderna vaccines were granted Emergency Use Authorizations by the Food and Drug Administration. News 12’s cameras were also there when a resident of the Crown Heights Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, 83-year-old George Valle, became the first resident to receive his shot, after which he declared: “This is the best thing that ever happened, because it will prolong life.”
Allure’s efforts have continued in that vein ever since. In July, another one of its facilities, the Harlem Center for Nursing and Rehabilitation, partnered with the Salvation Army and the New York governor’s office on a one-day vaccination event, which saw single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccines dispensed.
“We must do all we can to help continue educating our communities and encourage those eligible to get vaccinated,” Allure founder/chairman Joel Landau said in a news release at the time. “That is the best way to overcome this pandemic and protect our fellow New Yorkers.”
Just as significant were the ongoing efforts of staffers who, as Allure COO Melissa Powell wrote in December for Healthcare Business Today, have more than earned the “hero” designation they have been bestowed:
They are the ones dealing with the seemingly endless hours and a seemingly endless stream of patients — not to mention a resurgence in cases when summer arrived. They are the ones comforting those patients when their loved ones cannot be there. They are the ones who are forced to take extreme measures to protect their own families from infection (even if it means, as it did in at least one case, sleeping in a pop-up camper in the hospital parking lot).
They have done it day after day, for months at a time. And that’s something that can be understood, and appreciated.