Rachel Ng, a registered nurse worried about bringing the coronavirus into her family’s home, is just one of the frontline healthcare workers temporarily staying safe in an Adelphi residence hall.
Rachel Ng, a 24-year-old registered nurse at Long Island Jewish Valley Stream, a division of Long Island Jewish Medical Center, was afraid to go home after her shifts caring for COVID-19 patients. She was worried she would bring the illness to the others in her house—her parents, six brothers and sisters, and her grandmother. “I was especially worried about my grandmother,” she said.
To keep her family safe, Ng moved into a borrowed RV parked in the driveway of the family’s Plainview, New York, home. “It wasn’t comfortable,” she said.
She’d been living the camper life for a couple of weeks when she found out through a co-worker that Adelphi had opened one of its residence halls to healthcare workers. A thrilled Ng moved into Residence Hall B at the Garden City campus in mid-April. “I was so grateful!” Ng said. “I had been living like a nomad!”
PPE and Student Volunteers
Sheltering frontline healthcare workers like Ng is just one of the ways Adelphi is helping the community during the pandemic. “We felt strongly that offering support to frontline workers was something we needed to do as an institution,” said Maggie Yoon Grafer ’99, MA ’08, chief of staff and associate vice president of external relations at Adelphi. Here are some of the other ways the University has stepped up:
- In March, Adelphi sent 92 boxes of personal protective equipment (PPE) to the Javits Center in Manhattan to be distributed to healthcare facilities that were facing a shortage at the height of the outbreak.
- Adelphi offered its Center for Recreation and Sports locker rooms to local and out-of-state nurses, doctors and emergency medical technicians so they could shower and change clothes before going to their homes.
- Around 200 Adelphi undergrad nursing students volunteered to work as nursing assistants at area hospitals. “Most of our graduate and doctoral students are on the front lines of care in their work roles,” Grafer said. All the students have played a valuable role in alleviating the staffing shortage that hit hospitals at the peak of the outbreak.
- Adelphi has offered to send faculty and students from the Master of Public Health program to assist state and county departments of health with testing and contact-tracing programs.
Between 10 and 12 healthcare professionals are living in Residence Hall B right now, said Gene Palma, chief administrative officer and associate vice president at Adelphi. There is room for up to 55 residents, with each living alone in a single room to prevent the spread of infection. There is also a shared kitchen in the building, so they can cook meals. Northwell Health, the company that employs Ng and the other healthcare professionals staying at Adelphi, is doing medical-grade sanitizing of the building daily.
“It Was the Right Thing to Do”
It’s not the first time Adelphi has stepped up in a time of crisis. When Hurricane Sandy hit the area in 2012, the University offered frontline caregivers and workers spaces on campus to sleep and shower. “They had come from all over the country to help our region and it was the right thing to do,” Palma said.
Ng couldn’t be more pleased with the setup at the dorm. Her job is tough enough without worrying about having a place to live. She’s had some of her patients die of COVID-19, and she hasn’t been home since March. “It’s very depressing,” she said. She Zooms with her friends on her days off, and her mom cooks meals for her and leaves them on the porch so Ng can do a contactless pickup.
“I don’t know what I would have done without Adelphi’s help,” Ng said. “There was one time, at the height of the outbreak, when no one wanted me around because they were afraid I would infect them, and I was like, ‘I’m totally alone in this,'” she said. She planned on staying in the dorm through at least the end of May. “I just couldn’t be more thankful for the help I’ve gotten.”
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