In the opening months of the coronavirus’ spread throughout the United States, nowhere was harder hit than New York City. As the first official U.S. “hot spot” of the pandemic, New York’s healthcare system was overwhelmed, makeshift hospitals were established, and a call was sent out across the country for the help of additional doctors and nurses—a call that Ashley Sassi answered.
For the Newton Presbyterian Manor nurse, the pandemic represented both a chance to help those in need and an opportunity to play a part in a monumental time in the nation’s history.
“I became a nurse because I have a natural desire to help people,” said Ashley. “Plus, it was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I knew that if I didn’t take it, it would be something I would have regretted for the rest of my life.”
For seven weeks, Ashley worked at Roosevelt Island, a temporary/pop-up hospital that was established in some buildings connected to a nursing home.
She worked for 21 straight days, got two days off and then worked another 29 days straight. The work was both physically and mentally exhausting as she witnessed an endless cycle of suffering and death, but she credits her ability to carry on to the support of all of her family, friends and co-workers back home.
“Daily reminders that, ‘hey you can do this,’ ‘you’re doing good;’ all of that was very, very helpful.”
Her time in New York also taught Ashley some important lessons about her profession while giving her the opportunity to hone her individual skill set.
“It really showed me how quickly everything can change in the field of nursing and how much can be done when we come together,” said Ashley. “It also enhanced my critical thinking skills as we had limited supplies and resources and had to really think outside the box.”
Back home, Ashley’s experience has reaffirmed her passion for nursing and has proven to her the true value of teamwork.
“Being a nurse to me is about caring. You have to care about what you do, have to care for those you serve and you have to care about your co-workers,” said Ashley. “It’s really a team effort. No one person has all the information in the world—we can always benefit from someone else’s perspective on things.”