Collage of nurses on the COVID front lines.

The Many Faces of Bravery

Columbia Nurses on the COVID-19 Front Lines

In recognition of National Nurses Week, we honor and celebrate the bravery of Columbia nurses and all nurses on the COVID-19 front lines. We honor our students volunteering in the community, our alumni in the trenches across the nation, and our faculty teaching and guiding our students, and also providing care. Their resilience, compassion, and commitment has never been more evident or needed.

There’s no better way to share their stories than through their own words and pictures. This week—and every week—we honor you and thank you. Together, we truly are #ColumbiaNursingStrong.

View more Columbia Nursing #NurseHero photos and submit your story. For the latest stories, follow us on social media: InstagramFacebookTwitter, and LinkedIn.

Will Swanson: DNP Student

Male nurse in protective gear.

Volunteering through NY State Health Department COVID-19 Testing Sites in Jones Beach Island, NY, and New Rochelle, NY.

Nursing allows me to combat misinformation and comfort families locked in their homes who are terrified for their lives. Purpose is what has been getting me out of bed before dawn and falling into bed well past dark. The nurses around me never seem to describe it as a job anymore, times like this underline just how much it can be a calling. We are all in this together, nurses included.

Nicole Lesnett: DNP Student

Student nurse on bike.

Hand-delivering face masks to health care workers throughout New York City via bike.

Hearing stories from current and former classmates about PPE shortages, and seeing the shortages at my own work, has made me feel pretty helpless. I was recently catching up with a long-time friend whose family friend works at a medical supply store. They offered to ship me some N95s. I’ve been biking around Manhattan to deliver them to anyone who has expressed a need. I’m relieved and grateful to be able to do one small thing for the incredible nurses, nurse practitioners, and other health care staff who are working right now.

Jeffrey Bailey: DNP Student

Male nursing wearing mask.

Working as a triage nurse at the Administration for Children’s Services Center (ACS) in Midtown Manhattan on the Bellevue Hospital Campus.

With an inpatient population of over 60 children, ages newborn to 19 (some of whom are COVID positive), I am one of a team of 5-6 triage nurses who provide a high level of medical care for ACS's harder to place children, in a residential setting. Just this month our team worked diligently to support a young person, in our care, who tragically lost his mother to COVID-19, and who shortly after, had become symptomatic, himself. The rest of the time we work to ensure that all our youth receive proper medical care, mental health services, and virtual schooling.

Kellie Bryant: Assistant Professor and Executive Director, Helene Fuld Health Trust Simulation Center

Nurse wearing PPE.

Facilitating COVID simulation trainings for redeployed nurses.

I chose this profession for a reason. I chose it because I want to make an impact on people’s lives. Now on the front lines, we put our own fears aside and focus on the good that we’re doing. We focus on knowing we have this skill that can help people, it can help people survive, prevent the spread, and educate others.

Rakiyah Jones: Assistant Professor and Provider, ColumbiaDoctors Nurse Practitioner Group

Nurse providing telehealth.

Providing telehealth care at Columbia Nursing’s ColumbiaDoctors Nurse Practitioner Group.

Using telehealth, we have been able to provide personalized face-to-face care, continue chronic care management and immediately address patients’ COVID related concerns, and implement treatment plans to reduce ER burden while minimizing exposure and flattening the curve in the current Coronavirus epicenter.

Adriana Arcia: Assistant Professor

Nurse holding handmade mask.

Spending her free time making masks.

In the evenings over the last few weeks, I made about 125 masks to give away. I left about half in the lobby of my building, took a batch to the employees at my local grocery store, and sent the remainder to MJHS Health System Isabella Center, where I had heard they were in need.

Kaedi Fehlberg: Alumni ‘05

Two nurses wearing protective gear holding up signs.

Working at John Muir Health in California’s Bay Area.

Through the chaos and stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, I have seen beautiful gestures of service, love, and caring, both in the immediate medical community as well as in the surrounding community at large. People are coming together to share best practices, lend support, and are problem-solving in creative and innovative ways. I feel privileged to witness the best of humanity shining through in what can feel like dark and uncertain times.

Natalie Song: Alumni ’18

Nurse providing telehealth.

Working with Pacific Coast Psychiatric Associates providing telepsychiatry.

As a psychiatric nurse practitioner providing telepsychiatry, I am privileged with the opportunity to help individuals struggling to maintain their mental health and emotional state of wellbeing during this global crisis. One of the ways I try to do is help people find meaning to the grief they are experiencing. Ultimately, my role as a mental health provider during COVID-19 is to help others see themselves not just as who they are in this pandemic, but also who they can be.

Natasha Steinhardt: Alumni '12

Headshot of nurse smiling.

Working as a midwife at HRHCare Community Health in upstate New York.

Normal birth is no longer normal. So, we have to learn to midwife in a different way. Over time, we will. We will step into this and embrace what we know. We will take the protective measures and then walk into the room and do what midwives have always done. Even if we must do so shrouded in PPE, we will continue to guide women through pregnancy and childbirth with a human touch, a calming voice, and with a loving heart.