Jennifer Viray, member of the MSDA Class of 2001, is a Registered Nurse (RN, BSN) in the Operating Room at Saint Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey. In the days prior to COVID19, a typical workday for Jennifer entailed walking into the OR, meeting her patients, preparing the sterile instruments and equipment for surgery, and working with the surgical team to safely and efficiently perform the procedures. The best part of her day was when she would hear her patients say thank you after their surgeries.
The onset of the coronavirus brought with it a lot of change. Jennifer remarked, “Once the surge of cases of the coronavirus came here to the hospital, the vibes changed greatly! There was an overcast of the fear of the unknown among us all. There were coworkers getting sick, patients were getting critical, and sadly many were dying. Our OR soon converted into a COVID19 critical care unit for overflow of patients. Being at the hospital was scary and sad, now having seen what this virus can do. Because of the lockdown, visitors were restricted so we were the ones holding the hands of the patients so they knew they were not alone. But the harder part was going home and isolating, and not being able to get a hug from family when you needed it most.”
In reflecting on what it’s like to be a healthcare provider during the time of a global pandemic, Jennifer commented, “In my 15 years as a nurse I’ve never felt as much of a physically exhausting, mentally straining, emotional roller coaster as I have the past couple months. I’m extremely cautious wherever I go. But, after all the craziness we’ve seen, slowly we’re getting through it — together.” And with the challenges they are facing, Jennifer and her fellow healthcare providers find strength in patient recoveries. “And that has been the biggest blessing. We celebrate when a patient is extubated or discharged from the hospital. We play the songs “Brave” or “Fight Song” overhead in the hospital when either would happen. It gives us all a good feeling when we hear it, knowing that our patients are making it through and going home! We’re now at over 700 patients discharged!”
When called a hero, Jennifer is humble in her thanks, and notes, “I am proud to be a nurse. But I can’t say that I feel like a hero because I feel just as scared as anyone else. But I will say that my strength comes from knowing that God is my strongest shield and He will help us get thru these uncertain times.”
From someone who is on the front lines of this battle, with a unique and urgent perspective, Jennifer implores, “no matter what the media may say, COVID19 is no joke. I’ve learned life is short and you really don’t know what the future holds. So please take the time out to tell people how much you love them. It’s a crazy time that we’re living in this world, and it’s not over just yet. God is with us and we’ll fight this together! Thank you MSDA! And God bless us all and our family and friends!” God bless you, Jennifer! Thank you for all you are doing to care for your patients, and for holding their hands so they know they are not alone. Sending lots of virtual hugs your way!