Editor's note: Celeste Alonzo of Sparta, N.J., shared the following first-hand account by her daughter Jennifer Applegate, a registered nurse who has worked at New York University Langone Health for 25 years. She is currently an ambulatory recovery nurse in the Ambulatory Care Center but has recently been working in the Kimmel Pavilion, Units 13 and 10, as a family nurse liaison to help connect COVID-19 patients with their families.
There was a patient that was going to pass within a few hours on KP 13. His daughters were not able to be here. I went into the patient's room and put the phone next to the patient's ear for the daughters speak to him and say their goodbyes. His daughters asked that I move the rosary beads from his hand to his heart. I held his hand so that he could feel something. I made sure he was comfortable and assured his daughters he wasn’t alone. I was with him.
His daughters each said their extremely emotional goodbye to him — thanking him for raising them and for being such an amazing father. They said goodbye for his grandchildren and made sure he knew how loved he was.
I've been a nurse for 25 years, and this was by far the most emotional moment I have ever had as a nurse. It was just him and me in the quiet room, and his daughters' voices. I cannot imagine what these patients feel or how their families cope at home. But if there is even the slightest personal connection we can make to help ease all of their collective suffering, and their solitude, it could not be more gratifying to try to help every single one.
My job is a difficult one, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. Sometimes I am the last point of contact between a patient and their family. It’s overwhelming, but it’s also humbling to provide our patients and families with some level of comfort during their final moments.
I am glad and proud to do whatever I can to provide our patients and their loved ones with peace. I feel the support from everyone across NYU Langone and am so grateful to be a small part of this extraordinary team.