Health & Fitness

Long Island Nurse's Moving Story Of Treating Coronavirus Patients

Gerry Connolly wrote about the "slow and gruesome progression of this disease."

Gerry Connolly is an intensive care nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip. He shared his experience treating patients during the coronavirus pandemic.
Gerry Connolly is an intensive care nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip. He shared his experience treating patients during the coronavirus pandemic. (Gerry Connolly)

BABYLON, NY — Gerry Connolly, a Babylon resident, is an intensive care nurse at Good Samaritan Hospital in West Islip. There, he has treated coronavirus patients and seen the devastation the disease causes in those with severe illnesses. He felt compelled to share his experience on Facebook last week, and his post struck a nerve with readers.

"I was inspired to make the post based on the fact that nobody outside of nursing had to witness the slow and gruesome progression of this disease," Connolly told Patch. "Nobody else [except] nurses can attest to the experience of trying to connect these poor families with their dying loved ones."

He said his co-workers appreciated his efforts to put their experience into words, and friends outside health care have also been encouraging.

"We all deal with death regularly," he said. "We all deal with tragedies as a career choice. But in times when survival is unlikely or impossible, we can be impactful by supporting families in comprehending the medical inevitabilities, and coping with their loss."

With the ban on families visiting those who are critically ill, Connolly said the work of his fellow nurses is harder and sadder.

"We have to simply help families be present," he said. "We do not have the time to help them cope, or comprehend, or process. We simply present reality. And it is incredibly heartbreaking to be the means by which they are exposed to reality."

This is Connolly's full Facebook post:

Ya know what I hate? Getting into my isolation gear, going into a room, and FaceTiming a family so they can see their loved ones as they lay dying.
I hate the sound of the sobbing, when the family sees, on the phone, the gaping and disfigured rictus of mortal illness on their loved one's face.
I hate that every family says that they always looked okay when they were dropped off at the emergency room.
I hate that these people, before Covid, were relatively healthy, so when their lungs no longer really work—or their blood stops working—they will linger on the doorstep of death, on maximum life support—at the outer limit of modern medicine—before finally passing away—utterly alone—in a hospital room.
I hate that we have no idea why one person gets really really terminally sick and the next one gets to go home after a few days.
I hate that there are people in this world who have the audacity to suggest that their feelings about freedom (to not wear a mask, wusses) is somehow remotely relevant to this unending tragedy.

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