Westchester Medical Center chief nurse reflects on 1-year anniversary of 1st COVID-19 case in NY

Nurses like Paula Fessler at Westchester Medical Center were among the first in the country on the front line caring for coronavirus patients during the early days of the pandemic.

News 12 Staff

Mar 1, 2021, 11:02 PM

Updated 1,234 days ago

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On the one-year anniversary of the first coronavirus case in New York, News 12's Nadia Galindo spoke to a nurse who reflected on the early days of the and how it has changed the medical field.
Nurses like Paula Fessler at Westchester Medical Center were among the first in the country on the front line caring for coronavirus patients during the early days of the pandemic.
"There were a lot of unknowns, there was a lot of fear and a lot of uncertainty," she says.
Fessler had to make changes with no playbook as the chief nurse executive at Westchester Medical Center.
During those early days of the pandemic, the hospital doubled its ICU capacity, began requiring the use of personal protective equipment and moved staff around in order to care for the growing number of COVID patients.
"The only way we were able to manage the patient volumes we had and the workload was working as teams," she says.
Her reflection comes on the anniversary of the first coronavirus case in New York. On March 1, 2020, a 39-year-old health care worker in New York City was announced as the first case.
The second happened two days later - a New Rochelle lawyer labeled "patient zero" spent two weeks in the ICU.
He was linked to a coronavirus cluster at Young Israel of New Rochelle - about 1,000 people were asked to self-quarantine.
A week later, a 1-mile radius containment zone set up in New Rochelle, the country's first COVID-19 hotspot.
In one year, 38,557 New Yorkers have died from coronavirus as the race to vaccinate rages.


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