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Long Island nurses volunteer in Houston to fight COVID-19

Four nurses from North Shore University Hospital in

Four nurses from North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset are among five Northwell Health employees who have gone to Houston to help fight the coronavirus. Credit: Barry Sloan

Long Island nurse Anjanette Rosario called the decision to volunteer in Houston – where the COVID-19 pandemic is raging – a “no-brainer.”

“It’s pay it forward,” Rosario, a nurse at North Shore University Hospital, said Monday during a video conference call with reporters where she spoke from Texas’ largest city. “We do for others. Others came to us when we needed help. It’s who we are.”

Rosario is one of five Northwell nurses who last Wednesday traveled to Houston, answering Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo’s call for medical professionals to volunteer in areas that are now seeing an uptick in coronavirus cases. The deployed nurses have set up satellite testing sites in two churches in two different underserved communities in Houston, the nurses and officials said. There, they are swabbing residents and providing medical advice to combat the disease such as washing hands, quarantining themselves if they test positive and encouraging wearing masks, officials said.

Rosario traveled to the Lone Star State with three co-workers from North Shore University Hospital. They were identified as Shiney Paul, Timothy Verhey and Kristine Chan. The fifth nurse who is in Houston volunteering was identified by Northwell officials as Lauren Ann Henry, who works at the Long Island Jewish Medical Center.

Northwell officials lauded the nurses for sacrificing their time and personal health while putting their lives on hold. Chan, officials said, was supposed to be married this week. In a statement, Chan said her vows could wait because COVID-19 is a “terrifying virus and we need all hands on deck.”

On Monday, during the conference call, Chan gave more reasons why she felt it was her duty to assist in Houston.

“When the COVID hit New York, it definitely affected my life. It affected my family and all of New York,” she said. “I just wanted to give back and help to do what I can.”

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Northwell administrator Andrew Roberts, a project manager, emphasized he is not a clinician. But as a veteran who served in Iraq in 2003 to 2004, he said he couldn’t be more proud of the five nurses who stepped up.

“The beginning of this in New York State, it felt like we were going to war,” Roberts said. “And to see people like this that are now, essentially veterans of this fight, that are now essentially volunteering to go back to the front lines, we just can’t thank you guys enough for everything you’ve done.”

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