Essential Workers Share What Keeps Them Coming To Work

first_imgNew to the role, Johnsonhas been asked to take onmore than most employeesduring their first year onthe job. When asked if shestill wanted to continue topursue nursing, she did nothesitate in her response.“Even though these timesare so hard, I’ve never seenthis kind of teamwork. It’s adifferent set of stakes. You’retalking about people’s lives.Everybody is just trying todo the best they can for theirpatients,” she said. In addition to filling medication requests, Stryker explained that his staff also plays a vital role in providing information. He reports pharmacy staff spend a large portion of each day fielding questions from the community. In Atlantic Highlands, Richard P. Stryker and Scott Eagleton have kept Bayshore Pharmacy open seven days a week, delivering medication right to their customers’ homes. Stryker’s father, Richard C. Stryker, opened the pharmacy in 1964, and the family has served the community for over 50 years. Their newest store, Middletown Family Pharmacy in Belford, remains open as well for curbside pickup. “The best thing I’ve seen throughout this event is, without a doubt, people helping people. At the end of the day, it’ll be the regular people who help everyone make it through this.” “The neighborhood reallyrelies on us. Someone has tobe here. I’d rather it be methan someone else and mypartner is the same way,” heexplained. “At least, with the stormswe lost power, but we knewthey were working to get thatback. Everyone was going tobe OK.” He added that in thissituation, though the lightsare on, everyone is still atrisk. “That’s the terrifyingpart of it. It’s the part thatmakes us nervous.” Pulling off the parkway on a Friday night, the gas station is one of the few businesses with the lights on, though there are no other cars at the pump. Inside, three workers stood a moderate distance apart, with no masks. Thanking them for being able to provide me gas between shifts, I asked if they were scared. They said yes. They told me they know they need to stay open, but they are worried, considered essential when most people are under a strict stay-at-home order from Gov. Phil Murphy because of the COVID-19 outbreak. “The reason we’re staying open is first and foremost we’re part of the community,” he said. “As long as we’re helping the community, we’ll stay open.” Bain proudly explained that he views his store as “neighbors serving neighbors.” “We’re all in the same community, and we have to take care of each other, and that’s what do,” he said. Jamie Jablonowski, BSN, RN, CIC is a registered nurse and public health professional living in Sea Bright She added, “What scares me the most is seeing doctors and nurses terrified to go to work. They see illness and death on a regular basis and aren’t easily frightened.” While health care workers tend to the sick, other essential businesses help keep the community navigating through a new way of life. Frank Bain, owner of Bain’s Hardware Store in Sea Bright has been in business for 25 years. “Nobody alive has ever seen anything like this,” he said. When asked about the distance she needed to travel and the risk involved, she said, “I’m doing this because it needs to be done. Some people can help by just staying home. I can help by going where I’m needed. Simple as that.” Tiffany Johnson of Monmouth Beach is a student at Brookdale Community College, completing prerequisites for nursing school. Four months ago, she decided to take a role as a unit secretary on a fast-paced medical-surgical floor in a hospital. She echoed similar reports of limited personal protective equipment (PPE) and resources as the hospital census of coronavirus patients grows. Bain’s Hardware Store provides everything from plumbing and painting supplies to much sought after puzzles. His store also serves as the village post office. While many are staying in, essential workers head out each day, facing not only the coronavirus but the responsibility of providing services to a community that is now dependent on their presence more than ever. As the daily reports of illness and fatalities continue to grow, what keeps essential workers showing up? Several men and women who have been working since the beginning of the pandemic share their answers: Lauren Fonseca, a registered nurse from Oceanport, is currently working at a testing site in New York. Each week, she takes multiple trains to Long Island. This week she worked several back-to-back shifts, but didn’t forget to pick up toilet paper for her family before making the trek back home. Stryker views his role as making sure his patients are as comfortable as possible. He explained his team works hard to make sure their customers have refills of their medications available. “It relieves stress when they know they are going to get what they need,” he said. Tiffany Johnson donned PPE she is required to wear fo the entirety of her 16-hour shift. Richard P. Stryker said the pandemic draws some parallels to the large storms the community has experienced in the past such as SuperStorm Sandy, but that this situation feels more precarious. While all those interviewed shared similar sentiments of teamwork and community, Fonseca summarized it best. This article originally appeared in the April 9th, 2020 print edition of The Two River Times. By Jamie Jablonowski “I can’t stay on the sidelines,” said Johnson. “Although it’s scary, there’s nothing like being able to help people that are in need of it. It feels good to be doing something positive in a time where there’s so much uncertainty.” last_img

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