Q & A with Salimata Seck, Hostos ’16,

Nurse at Mary Manning Walsh Nursing Home

This interview was conducted on 5/22/2020 by Rocio Rayo, Academic Program Coordinator, and has been edited for length and clarity.

 

Q: What is your role, and how have you been involved with the city’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic?

A: I have been a nurse for about 12 years now. I have been in charge of patient care, medication administration, working with sick people, taking care of them. The basic nursing stuff.

Q: How has your job or role during the crisis impacted you, personally, professionally, emotionally, physically, and all the ways that we can be impacted?

A: It’s terrible. First of all, you are affected yourself, because we are the people in the community that are going to work, so we are affected at the same time as the community. Then when you go to work, you have to leave that behind because you're taking care of sick people, and especially these vulnerable people. I'm in a nursing home, so they're vulnerable people who are used to seeing their family members, and then now all they see is you. You have to leave all your problems behind for the whole shift—all your sick family members, everything—because you have to take care of them. It's been really hard.

Q: What advice do you have for others who are entering your field during this time of crisis?

A: Well, make sure that's what you love doing. I'm glad nursing is my passion. I've always loved the healthcare field. Make sure that it is what you want to do. Don't go in it for any other reason, like money, or any other thing. Just go into healthcare because you want to care for people. Because, in times like this, if you don't really care, you will second guess yourself. Make sure you’re getting into this field for the love of caring for people.

Q: How has COVID-19 impacted the nursing field, your community and the city?

A: It has hit the nursing field a lot, but most of all it has shown a lot of things that are not done right. They’re cutting the budget for the health. This is, they say, the most powerful country in the world, but when you go into the room of a patient with an infection or disease, and you don't even have enough personal protective equipment, it kind of [makes me question] that.

I think they need to handle things better. It has hit the health field because we don't have the right equipment. [We’re] not protected, and [we’re] still doing it. I think that it needs to be reevaluated after this.

As for my community, it has hit a lot there also. I'm African, and Africans usually put a taboo into a lot of things. I tried to raise more awareness into my community to tell them that there's nothing taboo about this. This can effect anybody. It's not because you're this or that. Just seek help if you need it. Don't be ashamed to be sick.

Q: What is your message to Hostos graduates who are graduating during these really difficult times?

A: Just love—love one another. Be kind to each other, be kind to other people. Then, [I] just want to tell them that I love Hostos, and I'm still a Hostos [Caiman], even though I went to Lehman. I was lucky to be in the Hostos Leadership Academy, that's the best thing that has happened to me. Just spread the word and get people to join the Leadership Academy. It changes lives, and it helps you grow personally and into many other areas. Be kind to one another.

This Q&A has been edited for style and length.


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