For Patchogue resident Jenna Castilletti ’22, a nursing major at SJC Long Island, working on the frontline of the COVID-19 pandemic means not one, but two jobs that put her in harm’s way.
By day, she is a per diem unit secretary at Mather Hospital in Port Jefferson; by night she is a volunteer EMT in Patchogue.
At Mather Hospital, the sophomore works in the emergency department, answering phone calls from family members of COVID-19 patients, working hard to provide any information she can for them. She also alerts different hospital units for the patients who come in, being as efficient as possible to ensure the correct department can assess the patients as quickly as possible.
“My role at work has been affected by this pandemic, as the emergency department is busier than before,” Castilletti said. “There is a constant rush feeling all throughout the day, and the call volume has increased, now that people cannot physically be with their loved ones.
“I work hard to make sure they can speak with them or at least get an update from a nurse. It is a great feeling when I can make their day,” she added.
When Castilletti is not at the hospital, she confronts other potential COVID-19 patients, as a volunteer EMT. When she and her fellow first responders are alerted by their dispatcher, they must respond to calls without knowing exactly who they are about to encounter.
“This pandemic is truly a test of our capabilities and how we can respond under pressure,” she said. “I think it is also a test of our commitment and ability to operate as a team. It really lets me identify the main reason as to why I want to be in the medical field. This virus does not scare me, it makes me more eager to help those in need.”
Since coronavirus symptoms do not present immediately, first responders could encounter patients who will become sick within the next few days or weeks. As a result, many frontline workers take extra precautions to keep themselves and their families healthy. Castilletti is doing just that to keep her grandmother safe.
“I make sure to keep my distance when my grandmother is around to ensure she doesn’t catch the virus if I were to carry the germs on me,” said Castilletti. “When I come home from a shift, I sanitize my keys, my car, my badge and anything that I came in contact with.
“I change out of my uniform on my porch and hop right into the shower,” she continued. “After, I take my clothes and shoes and throw them in the wash, hopefully killing anything that may be on them.”
With so many reasons to feel disheartened about the state of the world right now, Castilletti remains positive and shares these words of advice: “We are all in this together and will make it through by spreading positivity and love all around. Keep washing your hands and stay safe!”
This story is part of OnCampus’ “Answering the Call” series, focusing on St. Joseph’s College students and alumni working outside their homes in essential jobs during the coronavirus pandemic.