Camp nurses on the front line of the COVID-19 Virus

Do you ever wonder what Olga Tomanovich and her Ma’arp tzevet (Health Center staff) do when they are not working at camp?

As you are reading this, you are either learning or working remotely from home, practicing your social distancing. For those with jobs that are deemed essential, like hospital medical professionals or those caring for the elderly, this is not an option.

Three nurses who have long been closely connected to Ramah New England – Benzi Miller, Shira Rosenbaum, and Olga – are presently in direct service, working in hospitals or other facilities where they are putting their personal health on the line in order to care for others.  We want to highlight what they are doing and share our tremendous gratitude for their efforts.

Benzi Miller – Niv ‘07, Palmer staff 2009-2019

Benzi works as a nurse in Boston Medical Center’s Medical ICU. This unit is now devoted to patients who are being treated for COVID-19.

Benzi shared that his work environment is extremely stressful. While his co-workers are concerned for their family’s well-being and about potentially bringing the virus home, there is a very strong sense of camaraderie and good humor all around. He is happy to report that due to the protective measures that BMC is taking – every person in the hospital is required to wear a surgical mask – BMC has fewer employees with COVID-19 than other Boston hospitals.

As you can see from Benzi’s photo, his job in the ICU requires more extensive Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). He regularly wears the N95 mask, a face shield, double gloves and a gown for several hours at a time; these items are uncomfortable and regularly cause headaches. Given all this, Benzi is very proud of the work that he and his co-workers are doing and is glad that he is in a position to save lives during this pandemic.

Shira Rosenbaum – Niv ‘03, Palmer staff 2005-2012 and 2019 and DC Day Camp staff 2015-19

Shira works as a nurse at the Children’s Hospital of Colorado. Fortunately, there are presently no patients in her hospital who have tested positive for COVID-19. Shira shares that it is impossible to socially distance in the hospital and therefore there is constant fear of catching the virus from the many individuals who enter the hospital every day. While everyone is screened before entering the building and they all wear protective gear, the likelihood of exposure is still high. Shira expressed that her greatest concern is not for herself but rather for her young patients and the potential of passing the virus to one of them.

Shira wears a surgical mask, protective eye gear and clothing throughout her 12-hr shifts. Unfortunately, precious PPE – especially masks – have gone missing, so it is now a staff member’s responsibility to guard and distribute the PPE.

In addition to caring for their patients’ physical needs, she and her fellow nurses work to reduce the heightened stress and anxiety that these children and their families are experiencing. Fortunately, Shira added, parents and guardians are permitted to visit, making the nurses’ jobs just a little bit easier.

Olga Tomanovich – Palmer Ma’arp staff 1988-present

When Olga is not Palmer’s Rosh Ma’arp, she is working as an Infection Control Nurse at a long-term care rehabilitation facility in New Hampshire.  She is responsible for the daily surveillance of her staff and over 100 residents, and if necessary, the administering of the appropriate protocol and treatment. She is also responsible for new employee orientation, which emphasizes the measures that must be taken to prevent infection in the facility. Procedures are in place should a resident need to be isolated.

Olga is relieved to report that none of her residents have tested positive for the virus. The facility has been in “lock-down” for the past 3 weeks, which means that family members have not been able to visit. The nurses are going to great lengths to keep families in touch with their loved ones through phone and video calls.

When asked about the stress level among the staff members, Olga indicated that everyone’s spirits are good while at work. However, employees are finding that caring for their own children and elderly parents adds to their stress.

Please join us in extending a hearty kol hakavod to Benzi, Shira and Olga. We wish them continued good health as they continue to care for those in need of medical care.

Categories: Marp, News & Updates