Week of Thanks: Healthcare Workers


With Thanksgiving approaching this week, we continue our week of thanks stories.

Many people this year said that they are thankful for their health and those who work to keep the community healthy.

We spoke to local healthcare workers who have worked tirelessly throughout the pandemic.

One nurse from Saint Vincent Hospital said that she has been working in the COVID unit since the pandemic first hit in March. This nurse said that the experience has been life changing.

Some members of the community who have suffered through the COVID-19 pandemic have relied on local healthcare workers.

“I feel like I’m not the same nurse or person I was at the beginning. There’s been so many difficulties. I’ve seen every single emotion, but knowing that you’re there for them. Knowing that you are there for them you’re there contact cause they can’t have their family there,” said Carolyn Zaffino, Nurse at Saint Vincent Hospital.

Nurse Zaffino added that though she was hesitant at first about working in a COVID unit, the hospital had a plan in place with personal protective equipment for staff.

Now Zaffino said that it is a privilege to serve the community in this way.

“It’s built more compassion in all of us and I feel like I’m privileged in my ability to be there for them,” said Zaffino.

A nurse practitioner from another local hospital, UPMC Hamot agrees while saying that while it might have seemed intimidating at first, she is proud to work in their COVID unit.

“We’re nurses and that’s kind of what we signed up for. This is something that you know we want to do. We came into the profession to help people and that’s why we’re doing what we’re doing now,” said Cassandra Schaffer, Nurse at UPMC Hamot.

Both nurse practitioners said that they’ve gotten used the everyday changes that come with working in a COVID unit including the personal protective equipment.

“I’ve actually been in the COVID unit since May. So I think it’s kind of like riding a bike, like throwing everything on, like going in,” said Schaffer.

“It’s been an adjustment but it’s just like second nature at this point. I mean we always wear the hairnets and always have the booties on so you know just throw the N95 on and grab the gown and go,” said Zaffino.

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Pennsylvania COVID-19 Map

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Health

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