A small town girl from Long Island came to Brooklyn for such a time as this.
Margarita Dedos always wanted to work with people. However, if the job required dealing with confrontational people she wanted nothing to do with it.
Her first job was at Saint Francis Hospital. She worked as a Nurse Extender in Long Island drawing blood and helping the nurses until the system changed.
Her manager encouraged her to look for a job on the hospital job board where she found a patient liaison position.
Margarita was hesitant because she knew she would have to deal with difficult people. Her manager believed in her and pushed her forward.
This was her first real job in her early 20s and worked there for the next 15 years. Even after she was married and moved to Brooklyn, she made the commute to Long Island. She was comfortable, she knew everyone at the hospital and she knew her job inside and out.
Unfortunately, that comfort came at a price. Due to the distance from home to work, she would miss dinner with her son on many nights. She would communicate to her son through a journal.
One night, during a snowstorm there was no way she could drive home to Brooklyn and decided to spend the night at her mom’s house.
It was during Hurricane Sandy she realized the distance was not working for her family.
Her son prayed that she would find a job close to home so they could eat dinner together. That night she looked up jobs and saw an ad for a patient coordinator at Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn.
She reluctantly applied and received a call within two days. She immediately connected with the director.
It was a brand new position which she would create the workflow for. She was up for the challenge although her old hospital is half the size of Methodist.
On her third day she hit the floor running. Getting to know the hospital and other staff on her own because her manager was always so busy.
Margarita took over a department that was originally for 12 people. She was in charge of the entire hospital.
Some days she walks through the door and gets called to assist with a patient without reaching her desk. Dealing with visitor restrictions, expired patients, angry patients, and patients that don’t like their meal.
Today she developed a team of seven coordinators. She is the supervisor and she takes care of all escalations.
Working alongside her team and teaching her staff to have healthy boundaries with patients. She reminds them they are all people.
All those years at the hospital in Long Island prepared her for the most challenging time of her career.
For Such A Time As This
In the beginning of March, Methodist received their first Covid patient. Everyday after that more and more came in. The majority of the hospital was ICU.
Twice a day her team would huddle just to regroup and get themselves together for what was to come.
This was an emotional time for her team, they would bring items to the patients from the families. Watch women being taken to give birth all alone. They had to turn people away.
One moment that was very hard for Margarita, was when an 11 year old boy came in. She could hear his lungs rattle as he was breathing. The mother had another child but could not leave the hospital because she lost her place at the homeless shelter. Fortunately, the hospital was able to accommodate her for the night.
There were many times when someone passed away and their families just wanted to see them but they had to be turned away.
Margarita recalls the surreal feeling of walking around Park Slope with no one in the streets. Then looking at the refrigerated trucks and tents outside the hospital.
The hospital learned how to deal with the crisis and implemented a readiness plan once the second wave arrives.
Margarita stressed that we can’t be fearful and gave the following tips:
- Live your life
- Don’t wear gloves, it only spreads the germs around.
- Instead use hand sanitizer
- Eat well and exercise
- Focus on building your immune system now.
With such a demanding job I asked her what she does for herself. Her self-care consists of church, prayer, arts and crafts with the kids and family time.
She embraces moments with her family because she sees so many families in pain and she knows not to take things for granted.