BROOKLYN, N.Y. — Janett Perez says her role as a registered nurse changed with the coronavirus pandemic. Working in the surgical intensive care unit at Maimonides Medical Center, Perez says she's become an extended family member to her patients who cannot receive visitors to prevent the virus from spreading.
"That's my purpose to provide love and comfort to patients that don't have that around them. What they have around them is machines, tubes, noise. Many of them are scared," Perez said.
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Perez says she is often the liasion between families and their critically ill loved ones, often delivering a message while holding the patient's hand.
She describes one such exchange with a patient's daughter:
"She tells me please tell him that I called. Please tell them that I love him with all my heart. Please tell him that we're waiting for him at home and please stay strong. I said everything just as she wanted which is very difficult because I started crying because I'm seeing what she's not seeing that he's really not doing well," Perez recalled.
To deal with the overwleming situation, Perez began singing to her patients - uplifting their spirits and hers.
"This has been something that has been incredibly eye opening, mind blowing for everyone involved. It's all hands on deck and you do what you have to do for your patients no matter what, no matter what the prognosis is. You're going to treat them like they're going to walk out of here," Perez said.
Perez, who livesin Sunset Park, has temporarily moved into an empty apartment where she sleeps on an air matress to help protect her vulerable parents at home from contracting the virus. However, Perez says the outpouring of support for health care workers has helped fill the void.
"There's still so much beauty, so much love and so much kindness to share. People still have that," Perez said.
It's kindness that Perez shows and shares too by singing to her isolated and lonely patients in the ICU.